Tag: Eco-Spirituality

WILD!

WILD!

I’ve been wanting to write and yet every time I thought about it a field of intensity opened and I closed down the writing, closed down sharing. But today, as I was sitting at a small stream running into Deep Creek, I found myself settling, grounding, coming into stillness and when I did, I saw amazing creatures that I would have missed had I not taken the time to stop. To be still. And listen. And somehow those wild creatures freed me to finally write.

Two weeks ago a friend of mine posted on social media that nobody had heard from a mutual friend that lived with her two dogs in California. Friends from Europe and the USA started a search and it was discovered that our friend had passed. Of all the loses of the past year…the hundreds of thousands that have died just in the USA, this was the death that gutted me. She was alone. None of us knew what happened. And what happened to her dogs? We couldn’t light a candle for her, couldn’t help her dogs. And nobody in our beloved circle knew…

my two canine friends….Vern and Buddy

It opened up grief that seemed a chasm and fear that if I died my four-legged family would suffer and what would happen to them? 

In the meantime I had started a new job that I thought would be amazing because it helped connect people with Nature. I had turned in notice at my part time job at a university vaccination clinic. I was excited to be able to put my skills to use in a field related to the outdoors, specifically rivers. I began working both jobs…my space got constricted very quickly.

Then my farmer neighbor started clearing land and a scurry of woodchucks was uncovered when they cleared the brush. I drove by one afternoon and one of the adult woodchuck was standing at the entrance to their amazing den looking very concerned. And even though I offered suggestions to keep the whistle pigs home intact, it was in fact razed. A time when babies are helpless. It angered me and illustrated how humans continue to try and dominate Nature rather than work with it. That power-over mentality is one of the problems that destroys our planet…it’s just not okay. And I am still so sad…what happened to them? Where are they? Were they killed? Those ground hogs were my neighbors as sure as the farmer is my neighbor.

The new employer wanted me to start work while I was still committed to my university job and I did even though it was very stressful. But I am so grateful I did. I quickly saw that my ability to work long days…longer than I expected…and the intensity of the position left me exhausted emotionally, physically, mentally…and yes spiritually. While the Nantahala River was just across the street from the outfitter, I couldn’t ‘see’ it due to the overwhelming demands of the job. And that just won’t do. So I resigned three days into the job that I thought would be amazing. I was very disappointed but grateful to know I simply couldn’t handle the demands of a high-pressure job.

I want to be wild, not play act about wildness. I want to be in Nature, not within four walls with stresses associated with retail sales and operations. So this past weekend I had two things happen that upset me and my wild sense.

First, I found a showy orchis, a type of wild orchid, growing almost in the gravel driveway that is shared in our neighborhood. A big truck and trailer hauling equipment up the mountain came within an inch (literally) of squashing the orchid. So I researched it and found that moving them usually doesn’t work but I felt if I left it, it would die and if I moved it it might die but it would have a chance, even if it was slight. So when I finally got brave enough to dig, there was no bulb and just a very thin little root connecting it to another one. I tried my best, placed it in a downslope, bottom-of-the mountain sort of place but I feel certain it won’t survive.

Then I was digging up an old stump in my yard that was crumbling and found termites….YIKES! My home is protected with any outdoor system but still….so I decided to dig out the termites with a shovel, along with the crumbling pine stump. And then….oh….then I saw my little king snake friend down in the stump and I don’t think I killed her but if I didn’t wound her it was a miracle. She had the perfect setup with a food source, protection and I just mucked up her palace, her wonderland. And possibly wounded her. I tried to pull her out but she was strong enough to resist…which is a good sign. But after the ground hogs, the orchid, the snake, the job, my friend passing….it was a crummy culmination of two weeks of crummy-ness.

So as I sat by the stream watching the kaleidoscope of butterflies, I settled back into myself. Stillness and I became reacquainted. The reward was seeing a beautiful salamander scoot past in the shallow water under the rocks and then a crawfish scooted past. Roomies? Friends? Dinner? Had I been in a building, stressing over ordering retail items I would have missed the kaleidoscope, missed the salamander. Missed the crawfish…the dwarf iris!

Last year, just before the dwarf iris bloomed, we were in lockdown. The national park was closed. And I grieved about not meeting the little, wild iris that populate these mountain woods. But today…today I met them and sang to them and danced with them and thanked them for being here. My favorite flower in full bloom. I would not have missed them for anything.

And the showy orchis….everywhere! I felt they were saying, ‘It’s okay…you tried. And we are many!! Don’t worry.’ And they, like so many wildflowers, danced in the spring winds. 

I’m still working parttime at the clinic and I like it…helping people get vaccinated, helping the whole of our community and country become healthier, more resilient. And I’m still making native flute bags and taking photographs and offering yoga and coaching. And I’m still wild. And grateful. And now, after a magical time spent with butterflies, a salamander and a crawfish I’m a little more sane.

And…thankfully Marie’s two little dogs were rescued and were rehomed together. We were all so glad her precious elderly babies were saved and were able to stay together. That was a least one happy ending that came from our friend’s passing. She would have been very grateful.

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I realized that today is the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe. Eleven years ago…I documented it for a year, traveling from Asheville to the Alabama coast. It changed me. It helped me see how greed destroys everything it touches. I am grateful to have stood witness but it was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

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.