Recently I have been thinking about my relationship with the earth. I have always loved nature but haven’t thought too much about the soul of rivers and trees as a rule. Lately, though, I have become more aware of the life around me.
Part of this has to do with the coming of Spring after a long and dreary Winter. Mostly it has to do with my reading more about Druidry. You know how when you have an idea on your mind that you begin to see symbols and representations of that idea everywhere you turn? Well, it has been like that. People writing about their relationships with the land and the elements and seasons have put the kernel of an idea in my mind. What is my relationship with the natural world?
I know that I draw equilibrium from being in nature and that when I am stuck in a city I tend to go a little crazy. I know that I find beautiful landscapes inspiring the way that beautiful things tend to be. I also know that nature is to be respected because, in my experience, nature really is not forgiving and if you are dumb enough not to hang your food out of the reach of bears, or if you are bound and determined to take your canoe out on a stream raging with spring meltwater and clogged with flotsam, you will have to deal with the consequences which may well involve loss of life.
But what about the idea of interconnectedness? That is a central tenet in Druidry – that all things are interconnected. Thich Nhat Hanh refers to ¨interbeing;¨ there is no independent self as all things that are must be if I am to exist, and I must exist for you to exist. It is such a powerful concept and one that strikes down the credo of libertarians or others who are focused on getting theirs and to heck with everyone else.
So this is a lovely and powerful thought if it is true, but is there anything in nature that points in that direction? Well, yes there is. We are dependent on trees and trees are dependent on us. We breathe out CO2 – trees breathe in CO2. Trees breathe out oxygen – we breathe in oxygen. The cycle repeats itself over and over. We can’t exist without the trees converting our exhalations to breathable air. I am not sure whether trees can exist without carbon dioxide or not but it seems it would be a stressor. So now when I am out in the woods I have this wonderful image of the trees and I doing a dance of breathing in and out and in and out.
Another image has come my way as well that helps me feel my connection with Mother Earth. A few months ago it came after I downloaded an app that notifies me of natural ¨disasters¨ like hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes. We live in an area that is very active seismically and I wanted to be alerted if anything was happening.
We live in a fairly self absorbed western world and I guess I thought that natural disasters were few and far between and limited to huge events that are followed ad nauseum by the Weather Channel and CNN. I was stunned at the number of earthquakes that happen around the world every day! They are so common that after awhile I don’t even pay much attention. What it feels like to me is that the earthquakes are like a heartbeat – Mother Earth’s heartbeat, ongoing every day.
Those two images, the breath dance with the trees and the seismic heartbeat of Mother Earth, are taking me to a new place in terms of my understanding of the life around me, and a deepening of spiritual knowledge and practice. I carry them with me everyday and know that I am because they are, and they are because I am.