Hope fuels our quest for more sustainable, resilient, and permanent culture. Permaculture leader with experience as a facilitator and spiritual coach. She takes us on a journey of questioning, observing and building gratitude and hope.
Bonita says “Trying to live my life in a good way, live my life with meaning and purpose. And for me that’s about taking care of the life around me.
‘Embers of Hope’ is for those who really care. And it takes some measure of courage and strength and some sort of faith. And that’s not about religion that’s just about
some sort of connection to something bigger and more powerful than ourselves. In the book I share a lot about my relationship with death. And also my perspective on ecological collapse, how I’m dealing with it emotionally. And how I’ve learnt to deal with it.”
The Dying World
“One of the earlier pieces in the book is how much denial I was in around death. I didn’t really have much of a relationship with death. I didn’t grow up with the celebration of death.”
Bonita recalls “I learned about death in a very pragmatic and in a very spiritual way through the garden, through compost. And it was that experience of putting something into the compost. And then coming back a week later and it being transformed. Whether that was food scraps or a dead animal that we had found in the garden. What we perceive as the end transforms nourishment for the next cycle of life.
It wasn’t as a young person that I learnt about death until I really began to garden. And learned that, oh well plants do have their natural life cycles. And as we return nutrients to the compost. As we return nutrients to the soil, we’re being part of that natural cycle.
Balance Through Understanding
What I bring through the book is this renewed relationship with death. My relationship with death now is it’s so much more balanced and so much more equanimous. Having spent few years raising animals and having worked on different farms. And connecting with friends who are traditional hunters or non-traditional hunters. Or finding an animal on the side of the road that was killed by a car. And trying to honour that animal.
I’ve learned through the natural world, the living world and the dying world that there is a sacredness. And a sense of harmony from accepting and learning to find some peace in that wholeness which includes life and it includes death.
It includes birthing and it includes loss and dying. Also how I try to live with the climate crisis. The ecological crisis that we are all facing. It’s easy to be in denial and I know that
in that part of my life when I really denied death and though that I was just invincible,
and I hadn’t lost anyone close to me yet and I didn’t have any pets except for goldfish. And it wasn’t a big deal to lose a goldfish. Because I couldn’t hold that gold fish, or cuddle it, or kiss it.
Hope Builds as Hearts Open
As my life opened up, my heart opened up to the reality that I will die at some point. That opened me in a whole other way giving me so much more depth and richness in my life.
So I started this book. And I thought that maybe it was going to be a book on social permaculture. And non-violent communication which I also practice and teach. I started the book a few times. I started the introduction, had a table of contents and the structure in it. It looked interesting. But it didn’t really come together, it didn’t gel, it didn’t grab me.
Then a very close friend was diagnosed with ALS with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Being with her through that process, in what she chose for herself, was a powerful, enlivening experience.
Focus on Healing
She chose to focus on healing. She didn’t know if the diagnosis was correct…she didn’t know if she would have one year. Or five years or ten years. So she focused on her healing. Living each day to its fullest. And in trying to give back to all of the people in her life, her loved ones, her community. And at some point she also said, “Okay well just in case I’m wrong. Just in case I’m not going to have the outcome that I’m really hoping for, I’ve redone my will. Here is my power of attorney for health. And here are the papers and let’s not dwell on it because ‘I’m feeling well. I feel great. My life is still amazing’, and with so much vitality right up until the end.
Making Choices. Choosing Hope.
And so for me that became such a powerful metaphor for how I want to live in these times. We know that there is so much that is off balance in our world politically, economically, ecologically. And there is already so much change and there is already so much loss. We also don’ t know the outcome. We are all co-creating this as we go along. So my friend, Katherine’s, journey became such a powerful metaphor for me of how I can live in this time.
We can look towards the future and not know. Because as human beings we don’t know if we will if we’ll die tomorrow. If we’ll die in five years, if we’ll die of old age or if we’ll get struck by lightning. Or hit by a car.. We don’t know.
Embrace Not Knowing
For me the journey with this book has been learning to embrace this not knowing. And learning to live well while doing so. And for me that comes back to permaculture. Trying to live my life in a good way, live my life with meaning and purpose,
For me that’s about taking care of the life round me. That’s about making, creating more beauty around me. And that is in the garden, that is on the land and that is also in community as well.
To brave that painful life-threatening reality will fuel the fires of us taking the action that we need to take.
It’s not just about positive thinking. It’s about making peace with these painful realities, with this possibility of tremendous loss. And having that be what fuels us. Having that be what makes us choose intentionally.
Use Energy to Make a Better World
This is how I want to live the rest of my life. I want to use my life energy to make this garden, this land, this community healthier, stronger, more resilient.”
By intentionally choosing hope, we gather energy and find positive actions. Learn more about Permaculture with our personal mentor.
Bonita Ford’s excellent book Embers of Hope provides practical ideas on how to act for a better future.