Book Review

The Smell of Rain on Dust, by Martin Prechtel, 


unearths grief as a natural and deeply sacred element of love and living with integrity on this planet alongside all other Beings of all species. Nothing special, but simply, skillfully living in accord with our souls, without a 7 step method, without pre-determined calculations or award-winning titles.

The illusion is that “knowing” a menu of what people can expect will better anticipate life and therefore invent and cure every glitch before we get to it to improve our “quality of life,” therefore jettisoning having to live as in our distant past, with some respect for God’s love of chance and chaos.

I so enjoyed the brilliant storytelling from this indigenous, author, artist and Shaman . It sang to my soul – giving me a drawing of our shared natural connections and diverse tales weaving all parts together: the clumsy, the broken, the unloved, and the beautiful, just to name a few.

The water of the ocean is salty because it is made of the tears of all the grief of all the world’s losses since forever. So it is that the water of all grief—the ocean—is the womb that gives birth to all of life. So all life and happiness are born from a womb of life’s grief.

Martin Prechtel warned the industrialized mind of profiting from our internal experiences, of making something notable out of them, like becoming a teacher of what you have just faced, rather than keeping it within your own personal hollow where it can only be shared between you and Spirit and maybe even forgotten because it is seldom repeated to anyone.

Prechtel shared one of many rituals with the industrial mind, of how to connect to the Ocean Spirit in a song of unwinding grief. The sharing came with warnings of what to avoid and where to not be tempted. 

He talked about war vets and the grief they carry and how traditional societies have healed those who have lost parts of themselves through killing others.

He spoke of grief on top of grief, as in the burden one generation passes onto another when they neglect the process of transforming themselves and their grief into beauty or praise. Layers of generational grief seek to re-live the past in a struggle to unburden themselves. Prechtel portrays this seeking as the impulse that creates war and addiction and more war until grief is given space to unwind and love what is lost. 

He eloquently writes of the art of appreciation: an appreciation that is so great, that you can see through the eyes of an other, because you have appreciated this Being so deeply you understand their language of love. You understand how love moves through them. You understand that love and praise are signals of grief already present before the loss has transpired.

 He talks about our relationships to animals, wild and domestic and where they help us, humans, to metabolize our own grief. Metabolize like fungus cleanses the earth of toxins.

This book transformed how I meet my own grief and the grief of others and it affirms what I and many of us feel to be true but see very few markers of because they weren't taught in school. It’s the silent, metaphorical, inter-connected language of nature.

I know that when I am grieving, I am hungry for meaning and a connection to that which is here and beyond and for something absolute to contain the gaping that is leaking out of me. What Prechtel is offering reaches me in a way that makes me richer.