Tag: Eco-Spirituality

Song of the Earth

Song of the Earth

For the past two decades whenever I asked how I can help the Earth, I heard to go into Nature and listen. When that answer first came I was living in Asheville, North Carolina, and would go sit on the deck and wonder how it could be that simple: Listen to Nature.

Gradually the seed that was planted began to take root in my mind and encounters with manatees, humpback whales and dolphins, while in their element, helped me listen deeper. The whales were perhaps my greatest teachers as they dropped into stillness and expanded their consciousness while wintering in warm waters. How could I say that? Because I have dropped into stillness with them while floating in their watery realm and they weren’t sleeping…they were dreaming.

Several years ago I was diving in Bonaire and humming in my regulator. As I paused while making this underwater music, I started to hear an answering tone or note. Tears flowed as I realized I was hearing the song of the ocean. My deeper listening was beginning to yield results. 

And then a few years ago I was riding my bicycle in the back country trails of a coastal state park. I used the time spent pedaling as meditation and that particular day I began hearing different tones of plants, marshes, trees…not so much an outer sound as an inner sound, as if I was connecting with various vibrations. As I pedaled onward I heard that each species, each individual, each place has a vibration and all together we make a chord or a song. When a species disappears or a place is violated, that chord becomes more dissonant. 

When Nature is destroyed or changed in harmful ways, the entire vibration of the planet changes. Not just in that one place, but everywhere. The Song of the Earth is altered and sound is the cosmic glue that holds it all together. Vibration. Energy. Once that is altered beyond repair, then chaos results. This is perhaps just a more esoteric version of what science is telling us about the massive changes our planet is experiencing and the sixth extinction in which we find ourselves.

Over the past few days I’ve been reviewing my path and what became clear is circles that keep presenting themselves in my life. Music and sound is one of those and seems to be the larger circle holding smaller ones that have been actively working in the depths.

Over the past few months I’ve been hearing to make music with Nature…to listen and work collaboratively with Nature. As I walk in the woods of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park I carry a native flute and as I play I pause and listen. I don’t want to play to Her, I want to play with Her. The more I do this, the stronger the feeling that when we listen to Nature we awaken a partnership with It and renew the bonds that have been broken, betrayed by humans.

As I was walking an unmarked, hidden trail two days ago, I felt the Earth–heard the Earth–asking me to play more music with Her. I kept hearing the questions, Why not now? Why wait?

Then yesterday I read an article from two years ago about Dahr Jamail’s book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption. It reminded me of the closing where he writes of listening to Earth and how I’ve been doing the same thing. Not for a couple of decades but all my life. The thread that weaves throughout this six decade experience is listening to Earth. That realization helped me relax about the trajectory of my life’s path and realize that those promptings I’d heard twenty years ago, two days ago, were about connecting with the Song of the Earth and listening…deeply listening. And then playing with Her music.

Listening to the giant white pine tree and playing a song with her. Listening to my favorite rock on Indian Creek Trail and playing with her. Sitting at the Poulnabrone Dolmen, a portal tomb in the Burren of Ireland, and playing an Irish whistle with the energies there. Collaboration with Earth…working together with Her. That’s my path, my life’s work.

Everyone can hear the Song of the Earth. When we calm our minds and begin to deeply listen, we can hear it calling us into communion, into the sacred dance of life. May we listen and hear before it’s too late.

the simple things

the simple things

When life is finished for each of us I predict the simple things will be what we treasure. The time the sunrise was pink and lavender; the morning the clouds were cotton candy pink; the time the spotted dolphin brought her baby up to me and used sonar to vibrate my headache away; the humpback whale that did yoga with me before sunrise 90 miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic; the moment I held my daughter for the first time; that time I lived through what I thought I couldn’t.

I wonder why we tend to make life much more complicated than it needs to be. Why we accumulate ‘stuff’ and work so hard to get more when the accumulated ‘stuff’ isn’t what builds the real foundation of a full and amazing life. At least it isn’t for me.

The bull elk stood and made eye contact with me…or was it the cow in the meadow? It doesn’t matter….all I know is how my heart felt when we were face-to-face.

That time the manatee rolled and farted…who could forget that? I snorted so much water in my flooded mask from laughing and this dead-pan ‘little’ friend just carried on gazing into his own beautiful reflection in my dome port. Now that’s a good memory.

The accumulation of stuff requires so much energy that there’s little left over to actually enjoy life.

The investment I’ve made has been more in travel and exploring. My grandfather told me a couple years before he died that his one regret was not traveling when he and my grandmother were healthy enough to go. So I took his advice to heart and used money he gifted me through his death to travel to many places. That has brought joy and filled my heart with gratitude.

I remember sitting at a burial tomb in Ireland with nobody else around because it started raining. I sat there and played a newly-purchased Irish low whistle with gratitude to the ancestors. I witnessed clouds roll around the small area and the storm parted as if in response to my acknowledgment. I won’t ever forget that.

It was worth arising long before sunrise to drive to an overlook in the Smoky Mountain National Park to witness pink and lavender skies. As I invest in connecting with Nature with my heart and whole self I find richness filling my life in ways a fat bank account never could. It’s really that simple for me.

Changing of the Trees

Changing of the Trees

I wish there was some way to clearly express the emotions experienced as I witness the magic of the autumnal leaf change. Maybe it’s the realization that Nature is an ever-unfolding miracle of constant change that touches me so. Or the reminder that seasons change and thus so do we. Or simply the magnificent colors that surround my home, fill the mountains and dazzle the happy eyes of my soul.

Regardless…every day brings the opening of new gifts of crazy color and light; I am grateful.

It’s Not a Box-Check Life

It’s Not a Box-Check Life

Last night I was talking on the phone with my mother and telling her about going back to Cataloochee Valley this morning to visit the elk. She asked me why in the world I would want to keep going back after seeing them once or twice. As I drove through dense fog in the darkness before dawn this morning, I thought about her question.

Why do I return to see the elk? Or have in-water encounters with humpback whales…three weeks over three different years? Or visit favorite dive destinations over and over again? 

As I pondered her question it was like…why do I breathe? Just because I did it once…

First, to share breathing space with a massive bull elk or a sweet baby, still sporting spots in its shaggy fur or be close to a huge cow elk peacefully munching grass reminds me I am part of the whole, not the alpha or the better or wiser. I am part of Oneness. And secondly…it’s just so freaking amazing! To feel…yes, feel!… the eerie bugle call of bull elks echoing through the valley is one of the coolest things ever. And thirdly…how could I possibly get tired of the continuing saga of which bull will keep what cows and who will challenge who and will I get to witness their meeting? Or will that once-in-a-lifetime encounter yield an image that will touch people’s hearts?

The first time I was in the water with a massive humpback whale I wasn’t sure how I would feel because they are wild and huge and I’m a speck compared to them. What I felt was communion, like coming home to myself. My heart opened and my entire being melted into bliss. And it happened every single time, every single year. I even meditated with humpbacks in the water and did yoga under stars while whales surrounded the boat but, that’s for another post. How could I possibly find that boring? Or ho-hum? No matter how many times I did it? When something touches my heart it opens me to a great sense of life…of being alive!

Even the walks at Deep Creek, a part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, never feel boring and I walk there three or four times a week. There’s water flowing everywhere, trees, wildflowers, hummingbirds, butterflies, bears, snakes, rocks, rocks and more rocks and waterfalls and trails varying in difficulty from easy to challenging. When I walk in Nature I walk into a living Universe and I always experience these walks with wonder and awe.

As I was walking from the far end of Cataloochee Valley today, loaded down with camera backpack and tripod, I realized I can never be happy working inside for very long. The thought of a full-time, indoor job crushes my joy. As my hiking boots splashed through a creek, through mud and lush grass I had the realization that to honor myself I needed to spend time each day outdoors. It wasn’t a new realization at all but after several days of working indoors, at a part-time job, it was a good reminder.

I’m not ‘me’ in an office. I am most myself when the wind plays with my hair, the frost crunches underfoot, I’m nose-to-nose with a spotted dolphin or fluke to finger with a humpback whale, or when I have my telephoto lens filled with a massive bull elk bugling his powerful voice throughout the valley. Or the dawn shows me how lovely it is to be quiet and observe the mountains enshrouded with fog.

When I open myself to Nature I am at home in my skin; I feel a deep sense of place. For every wild animal that has honored me by allowing me to commune with it, photograph it and write about it…Thank you! You enrich my life with every encounter.

I’m not the kind of person that has a list of things to do in my life and once done move to the next thing. I live my life listening to wild creatures and places that call to my wild heart and will do my best to show up when I hear the call…no matter how many times they whisper my name.

The Sound…

The Sound…

The sound of water flowing over rocks was the first thing I noticed as I opened the door. Before I put my foot on the wet pavement the wonderful sound ahhhhhhhhhhhhhgreeted me and began to unwind me from the inside out.

It had been nearly two weeks since I walked at this water-place, this sacred place. The things that kept me away from this flow seemed important. I had been working election setup in my county, working in my yard, going to Asheville to walk at Biltmore gardens, attending online yoga teacher training…all great things but I was starting to become tight and felt my body gripping and unhappy to be boxed in.

As I walked I wondered…is the water making the sound as it contacts the friction of the rock or is this the sound of rocks laughing as water tickles them as it rushes down, down, down.

Walking nearly every day at a place it’s easy to allow the sounds to blend into a background hum but when we are absent and return those things that stand out to new visitors greet us again and we are re-aquainted with their wonder.

In this area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park the sound of water is never far away. In fact, you have to really work hard to find a place where there isn’t some sound of water….rushing, roaring, dripping, tinkling, booming.

As the trail moved away from the creek…all the crescendos and percussion and the ahhhhhhhhsound of water faded a bit and then there was birdsong. Birds were awaking from slumber and sweetly welcoming the day with singing and insects of the night still vibrated and sang under the dense cloud cover and mist. All these sounds touched some part of my being and created an invitation to relax.

When I lived in coastal Alabama I had a front porch that was my yoga practice space. At night I would go outside and sit in the darkness and listen. Chirps, drones, peeps of tree frogs, pond frogs and toads vibrated the space along with crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers and katydids. The chorus would immediately put me in an altered state of calm and stillness. During my nightly sessions I heard an inner voice remind me that these sounds help balance humans and when we cut ourselves off from the sounds of nature we become out of whack–off center, off balance.

Finally, after the vibrations and sounds helped unwind that inner spring, I noticed I was smiling. It wasn’t a smile simply on my face but my heart was smiling and every cell of my body was smiling. To be in this rich symphony of nature sounds is healing.

The sound of water rushing over rocks….purveyor of bliss.