Friday, September 6, 2013

You Are In This World! You Are Walking Earth

Last week, while lunching under this amazing tree in the middle of a parking lot, I heard a woman say, "You're in a parking lot. Pay attention to where you're going."

Although I'm not a mother, I understood this admonition to her young daughter, an admonition to be cautious and safe.  I heard beneath the words, "I couldn't bear anything bad happening to you" yet I also wondered during her young life how many soft drinks and genetically modified foods has this child already had?  How many toxins did her young body already hold due to the chemicals in our foods, plastics, carpets, air, water .... the list goes on and on.

With no intent of dismissing this mother's fear, I sat under the tree and wished I had heard, "You are in the world. You are walking Earth. Pay attention to what's going on inside you. Pay attention to what's going on around you. Learn to feel, sense, hear and see the bridge from your insides to the outside. Pay attention to what stirs your heart and soul!" 

This is how I ended up unexpectedly under a tree in a parking lot at the International Crane Foundation 13 hours away from my Tennessee home. 

Jerry's mother was convalescing from hip replacement in a rural Iowa rehab center.  He was making the trip to visit when I realized his destination would only be two hours from the Aldo Leopold Foundation.  Two months prior I came upon "Green Fire" the movie of Leopold on PBS. I wept through the hour-long story of this man's life although I only knew him prior as the author of one of my favorite quotes found in a journal long ago.

 "Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals." - from "Sand County Almanac" by A. Leopold

I called the Leopold Foundation to ensure they would be open and also asked if there were other things in the area they would suggest.  That's when the woman on the other end of the phone told me of the Crane Foundation six miles from them.

That's when I knew I was to make this trip. You see, that very day, fourteen men on the Tennessee Wildlife and Fish Commission had voted to hunt the sacred wintering sandhill cranes at the Hiwassee Refuge just north of Chattanooga.  Myself along with others were grieved and outraged.

Paying attention to the intersection of outside events, an inner knowing related to my soul's journey, I knew I was to make this trip.

Thus I ended up in a parking lot sitting under this amazing tree at the Crane Foundation. I had spent the morning seeing cranes from the 15 species around the world and learning of the world-wide connections between the foundation and citizens in African and Asian countries working to restore crane habitat while also creating jobs for villagers that complimented habitat development (ie. growing papyrus to restore wetlands which is also used in basket making). 

This is how I ultimately heard the mother's message to her daughter and the greater message meant for me. 

Imagine all that would be different if we received and gave messages cultivating curiosity, wonder and the sense of being alive in our bodies and the possibility of paying attention to the Mystery of Life's journey!   This alone could turn the world upside down.

This is also why though temporarily mad and sad about the vote to hunt the cranes, I am not despairing.  I believe the cranes are here as part of a sacred contract and process with us.  They are here to awaken us to something bigger if we choose to pay attention and consider what's really going on here. 

To what do you pay attention?  Where do you place your attention?  Do you live more (even unknowingly) from a place of fear or embodied, engaged love and possibility?

Remember this day and always:

"You are in the world. You are walking Earth. Pay attention to what's going on inside you. Pay attention to what's going on around you. Learn to feel, sense, hear and see the bridge from your insides to the outside. Pay attention to what stirs your heart and soul!" 

-Dawn, The Good News Muse  6 September 2013

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pest or Guest - Which Are You?

I found it only fitting that in the basil picked for pesto, I would find what some consider pests.


There were three to be exact.   


What some would call pests to me are guests. I joyfully greeted each mindful that if I were a farmer a hundred years ago feeding my family the presence of these three would have evoked great concern and fear. (In moments like this I glimpse how fear prompted the use of chemicals so families might live.)

Before returning my guests to their outdoor home, I gave worm, snail and unknown bug each a leaf on which to hang out.  

As I chopped and diced garlic, basil and nuts, I wondered how it is these creatures here long before us are labeled pests when oftentimes it seems to me humankind is the real pest on Earth.  We've become the pests when we're really the guests. 

Guests visit my city, Nashville, increasingly as we are temporarily dubbed Nowville. Good guests are grateful for a place to stay and are happy to be in their anticipated place.  As a welcoming host, when those I know pass through my city or home, I often have a small gift, a jar of jam or local candle to welcome them. 

Mother Earth is a profound host.  We are welcomed and in essence told take what we need and do whatever we want.

Historically we have cleared the land, hunted and killed. Now we pave and build, dig and blast without real thought as to the long-term consequences of our actions.  When the big picture is talked about words like productivity, jobs and growth are espoused without considering the implications of these concepts on our host or future generations.

We the guests become the pests.

You may call me native, but I believe to shift from pest to guest is quite simple.  With awareness, I the pest become the guest at any moment.  All that's required is time something of which we all have the same amount 24/7 and the internal equipment to be mindful, ask questions, increase our awareness, evaluate our reactions, ponder our purpose.

We have time to return to being grateful guests for getting to live here rather than forgetting why we are here.

It is so simple if we take the time, return to gratitude, awaken our minds. Gratitude and joy in Earth's simple, rich gifts and for getting to be here are key. 

We can return to being grateful guests here on Mother Earth for she and this Time are the real Nowville !

Which are you pest or guest? 

-Dawn, The Good News Muse  5 September 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Everything Lives On - The Deer, the Rose and Me - Honoring National Wildlife Day

This morning upon learning today, September 4, is National Wildlife Day, I immediately thought of this story from 2010.  It had only two readers (yes, my website keeps up with those things).  I reread it and realized I needed its message today especially.  I hope you'll take time to read it too.

During yesterday's walk, I detoured and came unintentionally to the place where we had buried a fawn found dead by the roadside months prior. The earth in this area isn't deep enough to dig a suitable hole so we gathered twigs, leaves and greenery sufficient to cover the little dappled, body and placed her at the base of a small evergreen.

With time's passing, we've noticed the little lump under the tree decreasing in size. Two weeks ago, I walked past and thought, 'This is exactly how it's suppose to be.' We come from earth, we return to earth. The little pile continued to diminish.

Yesterday I walked to the evergreen and was shocked to find the earth was flat. Only twigs and leaves remained, undisturbed, still as we had placed them. No sooner had I thought, 'The deer is gone,' I heard, "My body may be gone, but I am still here." Bending toward earth, I replied, "Hi, sweet spirit of the Deer." As sure as I stood there, deer stood with me too.

I paused taking in the satisfaction and gratitude of having stopped that first day to do what was important, to shed tears yet feel great peace in honoring and burying a life.

Walking back to the roadside, I noticed a nearby soft drink can. For the first time in months, I had tucked a plastic bag in my pocket before leaving to walk. I bagged the can, then a scrap of cardboard which was followed by fragments of what looked like a car fender from a wreck months ago. Like Hansel and Gretel following bread crumbs, I picked up trash working my way into the little wooded area adjacent to a neighboring pond. This small area covered in fallen leaves and sticks was dotted with glass bottles, brown, clear and green many containing dirt. These were not 'modern' bottles but old ones thrown into the pond some time ago and washed to land by the recent rains and melting snows. As my bag filled, I made two piles to later retrieve.

Typically I would collect trash with a sense of disgust and judgment for whomever unthinkingly left such a mess. This day I was happy to be part of a process. Oddly as I contentedly collected, I came upon a rose, a white artificial rose buried in the dead leaves, limbs and trash. I thought of purity and innocence symbols of the white rose as well as the young deer.

I flashed on the Mother's Day ritual from childhood, in which my sister and I would wear red roses pinnned to our dresses for church as would our mother, symbolizing that our mothers were living. My grandmother would wear a white rose symbolizing her mother being deceased.

Picking up the white rose, I thought of Mother Earth. Mother Earth as she was known in her vast wildness before we came along is gone. That Mother Earth is dead. I did not like this thought.

Then I realized Mother Earth isn't dead. As with the deer, She is very much alive. She lives in my blood and my bones. She lives on. Everything that has been, that once was, still is - just in different form. Everything lives on.

During yesterday's walk, I found myself. I found myself in the Deer. I found the Deer in me. During yesterday's walk, I found myself. I found myself in Earth and I found the Earth in me.

-Dawn - The Good News Muse, 4 September 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Do Some Learning. Okay?"

A week ago today I was sitting on a small town Iowa front porch writing in my journal, when I heard a man call, "Do some learning today. Okay?"

I looked up to see three boys, each about a head shorter than the other, walking from the porch across the way.  The man stood by a woman in the door as she waved.

School had started.  I was on School Street and the local school was only two houses away from me.

"Do some learning" the man said.

I wondered, 'Will he talk to his sons about what each learned at the day's end? Will they share or go their separate ways?  In this Iowa town is learning measured through academic test scores or how children respond creatively to questions and think outside the box?  Will what's learned be reflected in how they treat their peers especially those who are different?  Will they learn to treat themselves kindly and patiently or will they learn to judge and be hard on themselves?' 

And I wondered, 'Will this man, a father, be open to learning as well?'  

True learning involves openness and reflection.  At times it stirs discomfort or at least it does for me because learning requires vulnerability, uncertainty and not knowing.  

Learning takes time.  Yet in today's world, some would  say they don't have time to learn because of bills to pay, deadlines to meet, meetings to make or they're easily distracted by the worry de jour (bed bugs, weather, fill in the blank), while 'learning' the latest pop culture news and what politicians and corporations are doing behind our back.

Deep learning requires suspending what I think is right in order to consider all options including those counter to mine. This learning asks: "What is wise?"

Real learning for me has come late in life not through education and degrees but through hands-on getting to see, do, and sense through personal experience.  The learning that is richest for me involves listening within as I pay attention without.  Getting out of school is just the beginning of learning, isn't it?  

I imagine other souls in the starry universe shouting to each of us in the beginning as we make our way Earthward, calling out, "Do some learning. Okay?"

And I can imagine in the end when I return from whence I came I won't be asked how much money I made, what I drove, where I lived or if I made my family proud. I doubt I'm asked if I was the brightest or most athletic.

I suspect I'll hear: "Tell us what you learned!!"  I imagine other souls will gather 'round to hear what my soul learned about being in this body with this particular heart and mind.  Was I the best me I could be?

Imagine the shift of doing some learning today.  

-Dawn, The Still Learning Good News Muse, 3 September 2013