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