We are facing unprecedented weather- and human- related Earth changes. As we provide essentials for our displaced brothers and sisters, restore habitat, rebuild, and still watch our oceans creep more deeply into beaches, lap at dwellings, and swallow islands, we ask, what more can we do? How can we live in greater harmony with our home? What are the ethics of human relationship to the Earth? Can we correct the imbalances we have created?
These imbalances are partly the consequences of our separation from each other. And from nature. Right now, some of us are called by love to restore our connection with each other and with the earth. Are you one of them?
Many people feel the peace and uplift of a pristine environment. Can we cooperate with nature to keep it that way? Can we access its wisdom? Can we commune with nature to reverse the ecological damage? Can we find joy and insight in doing so?
I say yes.
Access to the intelligence in nature is our rightful human heritage,. However, it’s not often acknowledged in contemporary Western culture. Except in circumstances that we don’t necessarily acknowledge publicly: pet owners know they communicate heart-to-heart with their dog or cat. That’s a start!
Can we have the same love and bonding with plants and insects? To connect with other species, we must release bias and phobias. And we must also stop defining the worth of a small creature by human standards, but learn to see its inherent worth.
For example, a baby slug is perfectly designed to thrive in moisture, and eat plant material we don’t want. It is also exquisitely vulnerable. We could appreciate it for its inherent beauty. And not judge it when it eats plant material we do want. This shift helps us find the richness of a new relationship.
Thoughts matter. If even to a small degree our thoughts invalidate an insect’s beauty, intelligence and worth, it may taint our efforts to connect. And it hurts our own hearts!
I once heard someone say that in an embrace with his sweetheart, he couldn’t tell where he left off and she began. This is a common human experience. It reveals the truth that the heart has no boundaries.
Consciously extending boundaries is necessary for a mother to have “eyes in the back of her head”, and know if her child is safe. It is useful for public speaking or theater. There, it is called projection. It allows the performer’s voice to carry to the entire audience without straining. In nature, this same extension allows us to experience more than our physical bodies.
In the garden or in nature, I extend boundaries to embrace our co-inhabitants. I become aware of subtle impressions. Some people translate these impressions into pictures, or visual images. Some experience them as words, an inner hearing. Some have an inner knowing without words or images. All are equally valid, although our society typically discounts the feeling/intuitive and endorses the visual.
(For more, see my post, On Talking With Trees.)
The next step is negotiation, which requires knowing my desired outcome. When it serves both parties needs, it is called win-win negotiation. This is just as valid for plants, pets, insects and other creatures as it is for humans. Machaelle Small Wright has identified co-creative negotiation principles, based on how humans set the purpose and direction of the garden, and how Nature responds.
Mindful walking with Mother Earth has a way of blessing us back.
The Talmud says that for every blade of grass, there is an angel that whispers, “Grow, grow!” There is similarly one for every tiny creature. In different cultures they are called variously nature spirit, earth spirits, fairies, elves, elementals, orisha, “little people”.
In 365 Days of Walking the Red Road, Terri Jean says, “Every element of Creation expresses the Creator. Within each mountain, each stone, and each heart lies the Great Spirit. All are of the Creator, and each particle of the universe is equally deserving of respect and admiration… Know this and give praise and prayer.” (More readings are in my Bibliography.)
I call these forces by the Sanskrit term, “devas”, which means “shining ones”.
Communion with nature can be playful, joyous and expansive, as well as deeply healing. Thus we access Earth’s wisdom. Restore our health. And find solutions for our ecological and spiritual crisis!
Your comments and experiences are welcome.