Michael Kearney has worked for over 40 years as a palliative care and hospice physician, sitting at the bedsides of people who are seriously ill and dying. He recently retired from his full time clinical work to dedicate himself to teaching through the newly founded Becoming Forest Project. He and his wife, Radhule, live in Santa Barbara, California.
Breathing is what our interdependence with the leaves, and the trees, and all things green, actually feels like.
p. 201, Becoming Forest
Why I wrote Becoming Forest
In the same week I began writing Becoming Forest, two people came into my life. One was a bright and delightful young woman named Sarah, who had been diagnosed with a rare cancer resistant to all known treatments. The other was Lilah, a beautiful little girl just born to my youngest daughter. Sarah has since died, Lilah who has just turned three.
Sarah and Lilah were in my thoughts throughout my writing. I wanted to tell a story that would give them both consolation and encouragement, a felt-sense of inner-rootedness and protection, whatever came their way. For Sarah, this could have been with her approaching death. For Lilah, this will be all she encounters as she grows up in a world of pandemics, extinctions, wars, and an escalating climate catastrophe.
From working in palliative and hospice care, I have seen how an experience of deep inner security can make all the difference for someone who is living with great uncertainty and change. This is not something that can be prescribed, but a state of mind and heart, a state of being, that many come to in their own time and their own way. I have noticed that when this happens, it can transform that person’s fear into a sense of belonging and freedom, allowing the individual to face the greatest uncertainty of all, at peace with what is.
Becoming Forest is a story about how trees can teach us how to drop our roots into what is not afraid and does not die, so we can face whatever comes with open hearts and become healers to others and our world.