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Gardening in the Anthropocene

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

I’ve sensed theres a particular joy to be found in sheltering in place. Here on The Mountain I’ve gotten to know the neighbors more. Their songs wake me up in the mornings and lull me to sleep at dusk. I go swimming with them in the mornings and eat breakfast from the docks, watching them dive in to the lake to grab their own.

I’m speaking of those that we share The Mountain with that are not human. The amount of life that gathers here on The Mountain is staggering. It seems I find a new form of life I’ve never seen almost daily.

When we really slow down and look close enough to meet who is around us we may be surprised. Many of our neighbors are quite small and subtle.

They have found food and shelter in place within the surroundings that are left to the wilds, in places gently tended too. “Weeds”, blooming seed-heads and budding fruits attract insects, rabbits, groundhogs, birds, and bear, alike. All communing in a language of intuition spoken by fewer and fewer of us humans.

There is room at the table for those who are hungry. I used to think the miracle in the biblical story of the fishes and loaves was that on the physical plane, that Jesus had the power to make food from thin air. But he broke the food and distributed it, and in that moment “They all ate and were satisfied.” I believe now that sense of satisfaction was the true miracle. Satisfaction that came from care of “other.”

“The eminent biologist Edward O. Wilson suggested that the need to relate to other life forms and natural processes is an essential and integral part of human development and physical and mental growth.”

As we garden in these pandemic days, de-colonizing our minds in our readings, protests, and postings, we become acutely aware of the needs of other skin colors, and other creatures, plants and pollinators...We embrace the Unity and Sacredness of all Beings. Not only as a morally just metaphysical realty, but as a sustainability necessity for Survival.

The more we learn about the tattered remains of the fabric of life the more we see the intricate patterns that truly held it all together.

I feel a need to be closer and know what sustains us. It has become a felt force, a wave of compulsion. Where does our food, our water come from? Can we trust and love our neighbors?

A miracle may be underway. A realignment in the lens of perceptions, of what holds value around us, what is enough, and what makes us satisfied.

“Corona, in its own way, is trying to prepare us for that. It’s trying to teach us how not to end as a civilization. By taking care of one another. Not in some meaningless, Hallmark-card kind of way. But in a razor-sharp one. Invest, now, in the things you will need tomorrow. All of you. Food, water, air, energy, medicine. Where do they come from? From the lungs, limbs, organs, blood, of the earth, the forests, skies, oceans, rivers. From the creatures, the animals, beginning with the smallest, which feed and nourish the bigger, right up to us. Invest in all that. Do it now. Do it like never before in history. Put aside your stupid squabbles, and your pointless pursuits. Put down the remote control, the phone, the drug, the fix. You are here on planet earth. Are you really here on planet earth.”

Read On...

Our mother is calling us to wake up to her messages. Asking us to clean up our environments, her organs, and in relation our own bodies. Show up to do the work joyously, to stand for what you believe in and be counted. And grow up, to assume the burden of being able to respond accordingly towards wholeness. Let us become adept-adult, responsible for where and who we are.

We may plant and generously distribute our favorite native plants for wild bees, mountain mint...for their Sacred mutual delight… Plants we might normally weed we let fully express themselves, for the sake of passing pollinators...and their Sacred Relationships…the sex organs of earth to join flowers in a sacred union, the fruits of their labors truly a delight to the taste, a mutual benefit to our own.

"Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
And I saw the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father, and I saw that it was holy.”
-Oglala Sioux medicine man Black Elk-

There is a humility in plants that is so admirable. I find myself and many others turning to that connection right now, finding it to be real and worthy of true value. There is such beauty and grace to learn from in plants, a physical representation of a form of transpiration and respiration.

Their simplicity offered in lessons of the breath. To hold tight to where you are and flower. To make the most of your life and then return it when the season comes. Returning the soul to the soil where you planted your seed, a gift for the future. Their sympathy to symbiosis; what came first in the mycorrhizal relationship? Plants or fungi, the flower or insect? Without words these relations seem to have been created in an act of listening to the silence between the breaths of the individual organisms.

Plants are the foundations for more complex life, a living expression of the endless cycles of respiration and reciprocity, the great exhale and exchange we are all subject to.

Another beauty of plants is their commitment to time. Being in the presence of a gnarled grove of windswept dwarfed oaks covered in foot long usnea and multicolored mosses, only because they have been so deeply rooted for over 500 years is of a unique feeling of beauty. One that truly escapes the constraints of human conceptions, but can be felt an appreciated only as a gift of nature.

I feel true beauty is an expression of time. Life evolves through time into greater forms of beauty and complexity. In that sense a function of life is to increase the beauty in the universe. Encouraging others to share their unique form of beauty and fullest expression is divine. As you never know what they will build or unlock in others. What their soul will add to the soil. What threads will be woven into the fabric of being.

What newly unique and complex forms could come from your authentic being?

Would you say that you are loyal to the hand that feeds you?

What hand feeds you? (& do you feel nourished?)

Are you doing what you are in love with?

What is meaningful and inspirational to you?

Does your heart feel in harmony with your mind?

To know the creator is to comprehend your own purpose in life. By pursuing your own dreams and understanding your place in this universe, you will be able to find meaning in life.

There’s a momentum, a stream we are following. The rush of the summer suns energy flows on. But perhaps we should head to listen to our embodied experience and interactions with each other, is it in integrity at this moment? Is this really what we need or want? If not how do we change the flow and ripples, the currents we are creating that carry along others? Perhaps we need to take lessons from the plants. To listen in the silence for the space of the creation of something new and beautiful. To find joy in where you are and bloom when the time comes.

Perhaps we could benefit to settle into the “new normal” of a slower life of more conscious contact and consumption.

This year we may decide to let the evil-looking, black-spiked caterpillar that has fed upon and decimated the leaves of some of our plants alone, realizing THIS year that the plant will survive it, and return anew next spring... And that many beautiful butterflies will arise...As a long-term Sacred survival strategy…

We look at our friends and cousins and acquaintances, that are people of color, with renewed wonder and respect, that their burdens have been even far greater than we had already realized from structural, exploitive racism. Yet love and hope remain harbored in many hearts.

Just as we could crush a caterpillar with flick because of our entitled protection of our plants, marginalized people have been crushed for feelings of internalized entitlement and privilege, profit and excess. It’s the same superior colonizer mindset we must ever struggle to subdue…Can we respect the process and beauty of time? Can we be accepting of what is holy in the now? How do the concepts of will and force mold our world view and landscapes?

Jesus admonished the wealthy man having a feast that he should have invited the poor to eat at his table. There are many pollinators, birds and bugs, going hungry because of our ideals, expectations and visions of control. Destruction of their habitats, becomes normalized as the human landscape takes precedent and unfolds across every continent and wild forest. But we can invite them to our table with plants to feed them. They may just make the most excellent company and dinner guest.

With this pandemic, global warming, and the destruction of millions of homes through war and conquest, there will also be many, many more forgotten folks around the world. Those in need of food and housing who we must become aware of inviting to our tables...and homes...Knowing we are all One, and Sacred…

We are continually discovering in our acute study and examination of our separation, a wisdom that emerges. One that we needed all along. The wisdom is that we are all connected. We are not separate.

Love of God, of self, and of neighbor. We cannot keep the Great Commandment without fully engaging in all three.

We used to think that we caught diseases as individuals: "I'm sick; you're not." But now we realize, no, we catch diseases as individuals who are part of families, and families who are part of cities, and cities that are part of states and nations. We realize now that our whole species can become infected, and that our whole globe can be changed because of our interconnectedness. . . 

Maybe this is also an opportunity for us to become enlightened about some other viruses that have been spreading and causing even greater damage, without being acknowledged: social and spiritual viruses that spread among us from individual to individual, from generation to generation, and are not named.

It may have ran in your family until it ran into you. The universe says, you’ve been anointed to break the cycle. Generational curses, trauma, infections, can stop with you.

Often we fail to organize against them, and so they continue to spread and cause all kinds of sickness and death. Social and spiritual viruses like racism, supremacy in any form, any kind of hostility that is spread, based on prejudice and fear. The infection of fear itself that leads to lowered immune system.

Fear spreads as we feel the need to huddle to the ones closest to us, and spill our own frights into their minds in an attempt ease our infected minds. Contagion can set hold and the fear grows and spreads, serving to separate and weaken the bonds of our hearts. Soon fear can run rampant and carry a weight of its own in our collective psyche. We become crippled disabled with the burden of fear. Ripe to receive answers from outside ourselves. Not to say we should throw caution to the wind, as fear inhibits the ability to reason and intuit. Caution may be a positive result of reason and intuition.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

What would happen if we said, as passionate as we are about being tested for coronavirus, we all wanted to test ourselves for these social and spiritual viruses that could be lurking inside of us? And then, when I come into your presence, I, in some way, inflict this virus on you. I make you suffer.

What an opportunity for us to stop and begin to use contemplation over complacency. To take part in the process of healing and cleansing ourselves, not just of a physical virus, but of these other invisible viruses that are such a huge and devastating part of human history…

What does healing look like? Feel like?

Do you believe in it?

How can we align and cater to the natural healing abilities of our bodies and planet?

Can we truly believe and trust in ourselves?

In our communities to support us?

“I like to think of the word ‘healing’ in the relationship to curing, as coming to terms with things as they are. What healing is is a process through which we come to terms with the actuality of our situation in the present moment. Now, the beauty of healing is that healing is possible even in the absence or the very improbable likelihood of a cure — that the work of healing can be done right up to our last breath.”
- Kabat-Zinn (2004)

“Healing may not be so much about getting better as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are. Not a better you, but a ‘realer’ you….People can heal and live, and people can heal and die. Healing is different from curing. Healing is a process we’re all involved in all the time. Healing is the leading forth of wholeness in people. I think that healing happens only in the context of our imminent awareness of something larger than ourselves, however we conceive that.” 
 Remen, N. R.  (1993).

What if we offered ceremonies in service to the ecosystems? Cultivated a sense of balance, abundance and health? We need not be ashamed of our being. Can we trust in nature's wisdom that gave us these tools and gifts from her body? Tools we now cling onto with sickened tired hands? What are we willing to release to heal? Can we believe and act in the service of life? Knowing that we are but a seed to the unborn. There is something beyond us that is waiting to bloom and greet the suns.

As we experience discomfort in this time, let’s begin to dream of a new normal, a new normal that addresses the weaknesses and problems that were going unaddressed in the old normal. If we’re wise, we won’t go back; we’ll go forward.

Remember always, this is a gift.

have humor

& humility

dear humans...

for one day the Earth will eat us all.

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