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Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

Tell me what awakens you…

Tell me what feels sacred to you.

 

Is it possible that these two might somehow be related? Does one awaken to the sacred, or does the sacred awaken within us a feeling?

 

A few days ago on a TED conversation, (it’s closed but you can read through it here), someone asked if ‘sacred’ was the most dangerous word?

 

Indeed, I’ve encountered (still) a bit of disbelief when I describe a blog on Earth, home, habitat, exploring Earth being sacred to others. One challenged me immediately to define sacred, as if I’d raised an old spectre; given the home nation of the person is vehemently anti-religious both out of manners and frustration, I understood it was a bees nest of reaction going on inside him. Another response more recently was, “Is it safe to write about that?” That one caught me by surprise; it took me a moment to reflect that yes, perhaps, one’s exploration of sacred might ought be kept to oneself . . .  except that would delete thousands of years of meaning-making by our species. If we didn’t explore the sacred, and the sacred in Nature, outwardly, where would art, music, dance, poetry be? These expressions of feeling and experiencing the sacred, including in the natural world, are much of the beautiful expression in every culture and in every age.

 

Yet, the Ted thread certainly got testy very quickly.

 

What is it that awakens volcanos and tempests of feeling in exploring even just the ‘term’ sacred?

And that is what brings me to wondering what awakens you and what of it, if anything, feels sacred? Whether it’s awakened to the day or awakened to feeling, it’s something we go through many times each day.  Awaken, as in rouse from sleep, experience new feelings or new awareness…

One school of thought is that God — choose your name for whatever you are comfortable calling the life force within you, the light which animates you and which visibly disappears when you die and the light leaves your physical body, as I’ve witnessed in human and animal alike — awakens each of us each day. I’ve heard this spiritual experience described especially in families where a child or loved one has a short time to live and is roused from sleep lovingly with “This is the Day the Lord has made…” by caregivers.  Certainly when Nature awakens me, I am aware of something greater calling me up and out, whether noisy jays (earlier written about here) or the ravens in the forest. I am awakened with curiosity and inspiration. In South Africa, I was awakened by the distinctly foreign sounds of monkeys chattering near by. In Wyoming, camping on the prairie, I was awakened by an early morning stampede of running paws on dirt — a local coyote pack with pups roaring by, yipping and barking with joy. I am always awakened to a feeling of wonder at Creation in these times; wonder at Creation awakens a feeling of sacred in me.

 

More locally, I am awakened to awareness by my cat. Foul breath draws near, several head bonks forehead to forehead, and when that doesn’t work because I am lost to heavy, unfeeling slumber, a deft poke with specially-sharpened central claw pulls the quilt, sheet, and then a stab into the back or face (ouch) awakens me.  I always assume that’s God’s humor in action, for if I awaken, I’m still here on Earth and there is work I need to get done apparently; the cat might wish to be thought of as God awakening  me (indeed he made it in other cultures) but such an awakening to feeling isn’t always what I had in mind as ‘sacred’ per se.

 

But then I’m reminded by this that awakening to sacred isn’t always comfy. There are the awakenings to bears or raccoons ransacking my pack with a thin tent wall between us, or the shriek of the chase between predator and prey, whether in wilds, African bush, or city alleys, that make the first words out of my mouth a prayer:  ‘Oh dear God, what was that?’ Awakening to awareness, life and death, what could be more sacred or inspiring?

 

It’s a thin line between awakening and feeling wonder, of comfort and inspiration, of Nature as source of knowledge of the Gods (sacred) and experiencing that which we live among but do not fully understand.

 

So what awakens you… to your day or your world or to Creation?

What awakens you to the feel of sacred?

What awakens you to the thin line between the two?

Tell me a story of you, and your awakenings.

 

Are the Earth and the sacred so far apart?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We don’t know what our own habitat is…

Sir David Attenborough

BBC 16 Dec 2013

 

This off-the-cuff observation, in the midst of a simple radio conversation on BBC today, startled me.

Is it possible that we, in walking through the moments of our lives, do not recognize or ‘know’ our own habitat? This ecosphere of life-giving oxygen, those mountains, that river of water, this bit of nourishment from some plot of dirt?  

Is it possible we suffer from habitat illiteracy – can you read the sky and the wind for on-coming weather, recognize a source of usable water, or observe the movement of wildlife to note puzzling changes?

Being a 3rd generation native of this area of the Rockies, where the prairie meets mountains, and raised by a woman born in the late 1800s whose survival and well-being depended on reading the land and weather, I too taught my children to read the beautiful, huge blue sky here. We pay attention to see, to smell, to feel when snow is in the air and whether it’s a northern ice (and thus cold) scent or a heavy damp one (and thus a deep, heavy snow requiring extra food in the pantry) on the way. I soothed my children with knowledge of when a cloud portended hail rather than tornado weather and which way it was blowing in order that they feel safe at Home in our world and empowered to be a part of it. We see how the prairie Blue Jays have come to inhabit our backyard rather than the foothills variety and that summer’s doves now stay too long (and thus get caught by heavier snows than they are meant for) — puzzling changes in territory and timing we can only presume come from changes in climate and habitat needs.

Reading the weather, the sky, our habitat are essential tools. For we need them to feel at home here on Earth and with earth’s vital resources that support our very life.

We are not unique; so many I know bring their own weather/habitat knowledge with them when they make a new home in a new territory as well. And thus learning and natural evolution take place; yes, it really can be 10-below for a week here and yes, power can go out.

But Sir David speaks of a more profound change:

We don’t know what our own habitat is  . . .

Have a majority of us, like the comic Jetsons of the 1960s, become used to punching a button and food is shoved into our mouths? (Let’s not forget that poor family had to wear helmets for life-giving oxygen; let us hope that is not our future here on Earth.)

Sir David went on to mention the moors and forests of the U.K., every inch of which, of course, are transformed by man’s hand over centuries save, he noted whimsically, a few tops of peaks in Scotland.

Here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world many of us are lucky enough to see wilderness, where we can see an ‘original’ habitat of man, whether temperate rainforest in British Columbia or parts of the Amazon and here in the Rockies —except that in many cases, the wilderness managed to be preserved is the edge of our habitat, a remnant of land from which man could not carve out a 4-season living, like at the tops of our Eagle’s Nest Wilderness of 13,000 and 14,000 feet, and thus left it to remain wilderness.

We do not know what our own habitat is…

Sir David did mention that we might look upon glass and steel, buildings and tarmack, as our habitat — and if so, he said, that is very distressing. Indeed we are told that a majority of the world’s population now lives in cities. And of course, that is a mixed blessing: with more urban living, more land is able to return to wild, as noted in a previous post (Re*Wilding);  yet with more people, especially our children, living in a city-bound alienation from our Earth, we become dangerous and sad. We suffer both a habitat illiteracy, and a sense of alienation from our natural cradle that gives us water, air, food, life.

The remedy? Take a moment outside. Reconnect to your habitat: notice the sky and read the wind; gaze at your water source and feel grateful it’s even there; consider what the wildlife (surely there is some near you even if a humble pigeon or squirrel) had for their breakfast. And then look to the horizon . . . and think about home. The Earth. Your habitat.

What is your habitat, really? It’s still there, beyond the glass and steel.

And your life-force, maybe even your soul within you, knows you, me, we all need it more than we might want to admit.

 

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“Dwell in the magnitude of the Universe . . .”*

Galaxy Messier 94  Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Galaxy Messier 94
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

To dwell comes from Old English dwellan

— as in to wander, to linger, to tarry —

… thus to take time in

and to inhabit as a home.

Coastal_strand_with_old_growth_forest_on_oswald_west_state_park_in_oregon

Photo courtesy: Patte David, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Whether we dwell in the infinitude of Nature, of Creation, and linger there,

— or dwell on such magnitude that it is, and thus wander in the improbable, unabashed abundance of Nature —

in doing so, we are then able to inhabit the possibility that that which we call Sacred might be around us, enveloping us, within us, and also is our home.

It is then that we might know Nature, and ourselves in it, to be one In matter, in substance,

and in energy that we experience

as life.

"Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org"

Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org

 

*“For those who have always dwelt on limited thoughts,

a good practice is to dwell in the magnitude of the Universe.”

 Ernest Holmes

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Re*Wilding II

Re* Wild; Re*Solve; Re*Generate.

This is what Nature can do.

It will do it over us (and our dead bodies, as the saying unfortunately goes) as with earth-events such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, and other events not in human control.

It will do it despite us, as any one noticing dandelions growing between sidewalks and in parking lots in any urban human-created landscape. It may not be what we want, but Nature will start somewhere.

It will do it especially with human help, in the form of protections, elimination of poisons and pollutions, over-use and over-demand, and with human help in the form of leaving Nature alone in areas set aside to re*wild, re*generate, and re*solve problems we created in our management of it.

This was the report of the Rewilding Europe initiative.

The European Brown bear is returning; you can go and watch them (what a delight that would be!) on the Finnish/Russian border or in areas of the Carpathians.

A wolf carcass was found in the Netherlands — meaning usually there are others seeking new territories — in the Noord Oost Polder region. It was the first time in 150 years a wolf — anything, living or dead — had been identified in the Netherlands and scientists investigating noted it seemed it had been living in the area for quite some time, before being hit by a car or truck.*

Red Deer populations are increasing; beaver are making a huge comeback with hunting protections. White-tailed eagles and European bison are back from the brink of extinction, as are several bird species.

And the operating force here is, essentially, leaving Nature alone, and offering protection for the habitat and numbers who were left. It is estimated that by 2020, 4 out of 5 European citizens will live in urban areas, leaving areas where Nature can re*wild and re*generate habitat. Even “wilderness’ is on the map again. If…

Ah yes, If.  The famous two words of the Lorax are always near:

IF . . .

If the areas being left and emptied of humans — most marginal farmlands and no-go zones along old Eastern Bloc borders — are not turned into huge forest plantations for the biofuel market and, in other areas, if forests aren’t allowed to overtake natural ‘bush’ areas where wildlife can thrive. And this is best done letting Nature do what Nature does best, with large grazers like elk, deer, wild horse and aurochs allowed to roam, keeping open areas and forested areas dynamic: The way Nature works.

What an opportunity.

Re*Wilding Europe envisions a Europe with “open, broadleaved forests where bison, deer, wild horses and aurochs exist alongside wolves, lynx and bears and where most of the original plants and animals of lowland Europe thrive. Extensive grass steppes and shallow lakes where the ground trembles under the hooves of thousands of horses and aurochs, with a myriad of cranes, waders and other wetland species breeding or resting during migration. Mountain cliffs alive with ibex and chamois…” and eventually the return of “mystical old-growth forests” and “spectacular landscapes with abundant wildlife, which attracts visitors from all sectors of society and from all corners of the world.” It will begin this vision with five wild projects in Western Iberia, Eastern Carpathians, Danube Delta, Southern Carpathians, and Velebit, with more to come  soon.

Sounds like heaven. Or perhaps Eden. Certainly it sounds like the tapestry in which humans first emerged in Europe to live in balance, and some would say harmony, with the Nature of which we are apart and in which we have our lives, livelihoods, and spiritual being. Oh, those words again: balance, harmony, spirit.

As with the best ‘wilderness’ these aren’t areas where humans are kept out but rather Nature where humans are simply reminded to not destroy that which supports us, as our well-being is part of the well-being of our habitat; Nature thrives and humans thrive in one seamless weave.

But to begin, as we know, it takes all of us: To protect from rapacious use; to allow re*generation where possible; or to help with re*introductions and re*solve to re*claim habitat for the native species where not.

It’s an exciting idea, this re*wilding. If you’d like to help, get in touch with Rewilding Europe. As with any effort it will take all of our voices and our re*solve to say this is a world we want. Go and visit; help fund the idea of wildlife and wilds having value with your feet and your tourism currency; become a donor or contribute to the European Wildlife Bank. And don’t stop there; there are similar opportunities near you, in your local habitat as well.

The thing is, it will take our hearts first, as we commit to a balance in living with Nature rather than ‘against’ it as we develop a new Culture of Care. Then it will take our breath away, when we witness the beauty of Nature re*wilded. We will know we have helped re*generate Home.

*Roadkill and wolves; it’s never just the one wolf. Somewhere there is a pack without its designated hunter coming home with food for the young. See my article about the Return of the Wolf in the Rocky Mountain West from the 1990s at my portfolio website. It is when we can see such ‘roadkill’ as part of a system of life, family, and let our hearts be moved by the realization something, somewhere, is waiting for the return of that particular animal to the den, that we will truly assist the process of re*generation of our Wild Home on Earth.

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I am sitting in the middle of a city in Scotland. It is a marvelous exhibit of what man chooses to design, to build, to construct. Yet all of the materials from which it is made are from Nature in some way. It is hard to remember this in its greyness ’tilll I see the stones and natural materials of a few of the older lovely streets. In the newer ones, Nature is hard to see as the source material, the materials of Nature chewed, fired and flattened out.

In that I cannot see mountains or green hills over these past few days, I’ve looked with longing for that which humans can neither design nor construct, for I need that sense of something bigger than humans and human-hand constructed around me. I need it for my soul.

I need to see and feel that which humans cannot fashion to remind me there is something bigger, larger, grander than ‘just us’ in this world and in this Universe.

And I’ve found a few trees still left standing in patches here and there, a few pigeons which fly at head-level, and a few gulls crying overhead, which are not human-made  I saw a river yesterday, and knew it was not originally made with human hands, though possibly is now re-channeled by human forces. I found a bee stuck in the packaging of my cabbage at the grocery store last night. I didn’t really want cabbage, but I bought it in order to let it fly free out the door when I departed rather than perish in a man-made cooler, and it did fly into the dusk. I hope it found the pots of flowers under the street lamps.

In all this human-construct I’ve wondered:  If humans could design a mountain, would we build one? Would we, if we even could, construct a complete habitat, or even a wilderness, and could we even begin to put together such a complexity with the success and ease of miracle as we witness when green-growing things emerge between the sidewalks and stones of our chiseled, flattened streets?

Would we — could we — ever ‘re’join Nature to fashion that which we seem to not have the power or miracle-ability to create: A mountain, a valley, a habitat in its entirety, a wilderness? Would we choose to, even if we have the power and comprehension if not also wisdom, to do so?

Habitat: We find ourselves trying to ‘re’build it, to ‘re’ construct it from our challenged understanding of its workings. There is so much we don’t know. As John Muir wrote in his journals (and so frequently misquoted; this is the original and accurate version):

“When we try to pick out anything by itself

we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken,

to everything in the universe. “

 

And about Wilderness, something we cannot re*build as then it is no longer ‘wilderness’:  We are learning we humans do best when we let the Nature take over an abandoned area to create itself anew through a power we do not comprehend. That is our hope for ‘best’ when we have already destroyed, in moments and years and centuries of not being at our best, that which we cannot create or re*create.

 

What we can do to help the process of Nature re-wilding we are yet learning. This week the first report on the possibilities for Rewilding Europe are being presented in London at the Zoological Society, as a pre-event to the 10th World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain.  I am so very grateful to be in attendance, where we will listen, learn, and wonder:

How best can we humans help to re*store that which we cannot ourselves build, fashion, style, or create?

 

In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.

The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.

John Muir

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir

 

 

Thanks to The Sierra Club for the works and quotes of JM.

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“Your visit may be marred by tragedy if you violate park rules. Law enforcement rangers strictly enforce park regulations to protect you and the park. Please help keep our contacts with you pleasant by paying special attention to park regulations and avoiding these problems . . . “

Rules are the invisible barrier between humans and Nature, writ large in the park information given to the nearly 3.5 million visitors each year who visit  Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

“Yellowstone is a wilderness filled with natural wonders that are also potential hazards. There is no guarantee of your safety. Regulations are strictly enforced to protect you and the park’s resources.”

My teenager is singing Sondheim’s “Everbody Says Don’t” as we drive from Yellowstone into Teton National Park and on the way pass numerous park signs on our attempt at a great but short American car trip; we each can hardly wait to get to the National Forest just a bit south to happily splash barefoot in the cool waters of the Hoback River (and irritating the nearby fly-fishermen, I admit) to get away from the crowds and to ‘engage’ with a Nature that feels accessible if not actually relevant, rather than this ‘do not touch’ experience of Nature protected in the national parks.

Image

Gratefully found and borrowed from Yellowstonegate http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2011/10/no-boiling-live-fish/

We are passing families breaking the rules, going off the trail to have their kids pose behind the Welcome to Yellowstone NP sign for the family photo op. They are clearly seeking the happy memory souvenir of their own childhood car trip images, but I notice these kids aren’t necessarily grinning on cue. It’s a rebellious lot, this generation, unwilling to preserve the image of a family car trip as my generation did with the requisite wave and grin. I ask my daughter if she, too, wants the photo op to memorialize our trip and she responds wryly that she could have seen Old Faithful on the cam web of the park website rather than watching people line up 6-deep on the boardwalk to watch the sploshes.

“And the hype!!,” she says with exasperation. She leaves the thought there as I wondered if it had been my hype or the park’s, or a larger, American hype of fondness over the car-trip to Nature in Yellowstone National Park to which she was referring.

Ah, Yellowtone. Hyped since 1872 to tourists, I note, remembering that this is Nature with tourism. Hyped to keep people not living near it valuing it in order that it be protected from private development by people, decade after decade; the road-access areas of the parks are a way in, an Ambassador of Nature to the public, for the millions of acres set aside that the public doesn’t normally see and therefore might not find relevant to their lives.  Hyped to keep it — Nature — in the game of the American mind or at least a relevant part of the discussion of ‘what is great about America’. Without the ambassador Nature become invisible; with the tourism, Nature stays in the picture, so to speak. Full circle.

The rules are necessary because we don’t know how to behave in Nature, from feeding animals truly wild (yes, it happened a day we were there, a preschooler pushed into the picture with the bison by goading parents wanting another photo op. It turned out okay, thanks to a park bus driver who yelled a warning) to taking a bath in the hot springs (a warning in the tourist information but thankfully no takers, so far this summer.)

We had sat on the veranda of the gracious old Old Faithful Inn, feeling the ghosts of turn-of-the-century tourists strolling about in hats and large skirts, as we waited the 88 min for Old Faithful geyser to blow. I was eying the out-the-door line for ice cream while my daughter wondered why it felt like Stonehenge where crowds of hundreds also stood 6-deep, all gazing with expectation and cameras at the ready, to one central spot. We wondered in retrospect what they were waiting for at Stonehenge; at least here was an action shot provided by Nature.

A woman from New York conversed with us on the porch, having spent 3-days-so-far on a bus from South Dakota, taking her elderly mother to see Yellowstone for once in her long life, we were told. “She could care less if she sees another geyser at this point,” the woman laughs with us. Indeed, the mother was inside eating lunch ignoring the ticking minutes to The Moment, and the daughter quipped the atmosphere around us felt like New Year’s Eve in Times Square, with the crowds and the waiting and then with pictures taken, the shuffle back home. “You always think, ‘I could have watched it on TV,'” she muses. But then anticipation rises in the gathering crowd with a small splosh from Old Faithful. “Do they at least sound a horn or something before it goes, so we know when to start taking pictures?” It was funny. Really funny. And it was so far from relevant to our daily lives; it was a good-time.

The magic and mystery of Nature that the 1800s tourists might have felt in this far-away-from-civilization wilderness seemed gone. Knowing now Old Faithful  is part of a system of a giant underground caldera that is predicted to, someday any day now, make my home of the Rocky Mountains West a geologic memory, the watching of it suddenly felt a bit like knowing too much. It felt suddenly akin to what the required sex ed class does to the romantic notion of “bff love” in middle school, at once fascinating and vaguely unsettling.

Is magic and mystery needed to make Nature more relevant to us?

I wanted to make a last effort to engage daughter with the Nature behind the zoo-i-ness of the park before we left the boundary, the Nature that is just behind the signs and the rules, the Nature that is at once protected but also wilderness and a very wild home of grizzly bear, moose, elk, wolves, is out of man’s control, and is the last, the largest intact ecosystem in the lower 48 states. But these are just facts and facts don’t engage the soul or the senses.

I asked her to ‘just for fun’ connect to what it would feel like if she saw the beauty of the wilds in the park as what some call “God’s handiwork” or “the face of God”, or as with Native American culture, for her to try out seeing God(s) in the many facets of Nature that are around every curve in this beautiful, protected wild area. I asked her to use her imagination . . . and her heart.

She was quiet for a time.

I wondered for a moment where such a crazy idea came from in me, and then I heard the voice of my own father saying in the tone of voice he reserved for reading great stories as we stood looking at the park when I was a little girl: “Man is just a visitor here . . .” he said mysteriously, as if the mountains were Val Halla, the land of the Gods, and we mere mortals had to be Heros to last in the wilds where God or Gods roamed.

“If you can’t create it, don’t destroy it,” he added often as we’d head to the Ranger talks under a sky full of stars.  This from a not obviously religious man who loved Nature and is a self-described “recovering Christian” as the result of a too-strict church-going childhood. When I was a child, he gave me the every-Sunday-morning choice (choose one) of driving through the beautiful mountains here in Colorado or going to church, as to him they were a similar destination: a place to connect with what man can’t create.

But the mystery, the engagement of the imagination, the teaching of the intangible, how is that communicated? From a sense of mystery about something so ineffable? From an expression of ‘value’ by a parent? Or equally the time spent splashing in creeks as we did, too, when I was a child; it was the ‘treat’ at the end of the day of driving or short hike. Or isn’t the transmission of ‘importance to me’ from parent to child also often grounds for rebellion rather than a kind-of-inherited reverence for that which is valued? What is it that provides the relevance and the connection?

I wondered if the woman from New York would take her wry humor, joy, laughter, endurance, and pictures, and in the power of telling the Story of her trip, suddenly feel the value of Nature, the relevance of the experience of Nature, to her New York life? And what of the tourists we saw from India, Asia and Europe — what connection did they take home with their pictures and their stories?

Whether my daughter was humoring her crazy mom with her moments of silent reflection, or connecting ‘for fun’ with a different view of Nature as sacred (or both), I’ll never know but I do know she’s a good, good kid willing to expand her heart and soul and give such nutty requests a faithful try. She knows the importance of imagination; it’s what makes life interesting and creative, magical, and yes, engaging.

“Yes,” she finally said quietly. “It is different. It’s so … really beautiful.”

And then with a turn of the bend of the Snake River, we were out of the park with the forested Hoback River waiting just 20 min beyond the human circus of Jackson’s Hole.

With wet legs and sighs of relief, we engaged for a time in a now very relevant Nature. Who cannot connect with clear cold mountain waters, the shade of spruce trees, and the fresh air of forest on an 85-degree day and hours of traffic and driving behind us?

Magic, mystery, reverence, imagination, and clear, cold water. Nature was returned to relevance from behind its protecting rules for a lovely hour or so. Now how to carry it home without pictures, if not in our souls? And a story to tell in the future.

 

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Image

© elizabethdarby 2012

Each morning, in my middle-of-city existence, I hear blue jays coming to check out my back-yard banquet (to them) table where nuts and fruits and seed are placed throughout the year. It is a daily ritual and they often arrive, blue-white sirens which awaken the world, at the banquet table,

um, before I do.  

 

I hear them.

They arrive at first with excited calls — the day is dawning, I muse — and they’re heading over from wherever they nest at night to a feast.

 

Then, upon arrival, the pitched cry goes a bit shrill when there is no seed waiting, and the calling grows louder and faster and a bit sharp and edgy. It feels a bit pushy, but truly I have no idea why; it’s just the frequency of the sound of the call and the rest is imagination. Nonetheless, I feel I understand them as I listen, for the call changes with my arrival with seed. Then there is a bit of silence and after a few moments, the excited call, again, as they head off to the next feeding station on the other side of a street somewhere beyond. If there is seed, then the excited call continues for a bit before they wander off to the other potential somewhere nearby regardless of my offerings. The jays always circle back around to my table throughout the day; if it was empty earlier, they’re back in a couple hours, with the same calls, the same pattern, and the same excitement. 

When I hear them on their way, I often find myself saying quietly, “Yes, yes I’m coming. Hang on. . . .” whether willing exhausted eyes to open or stopping in daily work to make sure I respond — bringing seed out and aware of the flicker of wing and blue as the jays hide briefly while I come out the door.

 

Respond.

It is a conversation.

 

At least it feels so to me, for they don’t ‘hear’ me respond, but I know the calls so well, I can hear the changes in sound based on my opening the door. I can feel their darted-looks as they sense or hear (not sure which) my digging at the seed on my back porch to bring it out, as they wait with all the other birds and squirrels assembling for the banquet to appear. And I can hear the calls change when I don’t respond, when I don’t take action with seed in hand.

 

It is a conversation, whether of sound or sense or dance of movement between us.

It is a “conversation” because we are aware of each other, and one of us (at least) I know is listening and responding to the other, for it is me who is responding — usually with joy, delight, and care and wonder — to the call.

 

It’s an ancient one, this call and response, and like any sacred ceremony based on call and response in any culture; it’s a call to connection with each other and with that unseen but tangible to the feel web that connects us. 

 

As I begin the work of imagining what a paradigm shift to a Culture of Care for Nature looks like and feels like — and how to nurture it —  I’ve wondered where such a Culture of Care begins. Maybe even — no, especially — I’ve wondered how it begins.

 

And then I heard my “response” to a conversation from Nature.

 

If we are actively caring for someone, whether someone we love or someone with whom we care enough to be in relation, we listen to him/her/them, don’t we?

 

We witness his/her/their lives and their perceptions of reality; we make ourselves aware of their habits and challenges, joys and urgencies.

 

We create a connection of care by responding to what we hear and see from them and in them.

 

We are actively connecting in conversation and it is experienced, by at least one of us, as care.

In active connection we respond, “I care what is happening; I care what you say; I care what you think and feel, if not also care about what you yearn for and for your health and well-being.”

 

If you listen to Nature as a conversation, wherever you are in this moment, what would you hear?

 

Is there a pattern you’ve noticed but disregarded?

 

Is there an urging to action that you’ve felt, but set aside to later?

 

Have you responded to the conversation calling to you from all around, whatever beloved you are hearing at this moment, whether Spirit, beloved Companion, or a fellow in Nature?

 

By entering into conversation, we witness, we connect, and thus we begin to care.

 

What do you hear?

 

Do you respond?

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