Honoring Earth Day with a personal story. About 10 years ago, I had a profound experience of spiritual listening in a little flower bed. Recently, I made this new art image, Faithful to the Light, to try to honor that encounter. Now I want to share the story too, in a 6-minute video. The Brave Joy Collective saw the video last month, and here it is for you:
Even with all my hand gestures in the video, I can't explain the joy and empowerment of hearing that daffodil tell me a truth about responding rather than forcing my way through.
A decade later, the memory of the flower's teaching is still such a vivid, encouraging reminder to me of our privilege, responsibility, and joy to actually hear and really participate in our Earth community. The Creator / God / Spirit / Life made us as a part of a greater community, and greater whole. I don't mean to be fluffy or woo-woo about this, I mean seriously that we've forgotten something wonderful about that connection that we can re-learn. In fact, I'm not sure we can repair this climate emergency and our relationship to our home planet without this kind of surrender to listening and learning. Today I re-dedicate myself to deepening my practice.
Fortunately, there are so many voices of those who've kept this communal listening alive. Consider the story told by Diné spiritual teacher Pat McCabe (Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining) in this calmly powerful video about speaking and listening to Water. She's leading opening prayers/ritual at the Spiritual Directors International conference this week, and I'm so deeply grateful for her presence and teachings. I know it will take me a while to integrate her invitations to remember our "interbeing" with all of Earth and each other. It feels somewhat new, but mostly bone-deep familiar.
Finally, I saw a kindred Afro-Indigenous practice in this article. Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm (who is becoming a new hero of mine) writes about farming and a form of divination that asks for spiritual permission before changes are made on or to the land. Imagine that-- if we would all ask the trees, plants, soil for help before deciding what to do, and when!
I'm wondering about all of this, on the patch of ground my wife and I are held by right now in New Mexico. The Pueblo people loved it long before we did, and related with the land in reverence. As a white American, consumer culture and white supremacy put me in conflict with our Earth. So I am intentionally, slowly learning and remembering to reconnect with other, older ways of being human from my own lineage that include humility and connection.
It's definitely painful to hear some of what the natural world is saying right now, yet that listening is imperative. But before we despair and stop trying, I hope we'll remind each other that it brings a deeper joy and belonging (that I still can't quite explain) to listen with that daffodil, my backyard trees, the Rio Grande river... or with you.