Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Earthworm - Class Isn't Over

I wish I could say the earthworm story concluded where I last left it in the prior Musing. Instead I felt compelled to go check on the little creature assuming I'd find the place where I laid it empty, leaving my imagination anything but empty as I'd get to wonder about the earthworms wanderings in our garden.

As lunch simmered, I ran out to pay respects one last time. After writing the story of our encounter, I wanted to share my appreciation again with this creature. Instead I found beneath the fern and covered by the ginkgo leaf, ants sharing in the earthworm's literal energy, swarming its little body feeding their even smaller bodies.

I felt sick and wished I had left the little worm to find its way along the sidewalk blocks from my home. I heard: Dawn, you brought him home in love and he brought you home to love.

I was not consoled. I felt so sad. In the ants, I was being challenged to see the 'all in the small' in a way I did not desire. It's not that I hate ants. I've sat mesmerized watching a single ant cart a crumb ten times its size across the patio. Likewise I've found myself curious as to how they work together and the application of this to the human family.

What was it about their busyness that troubled me so, caused this visceral reaction in my heart, body and spirit? They were congregating, swarming over the ant as if it might be their last meal.

The little earthworm reminded me of our Earth and the ants, us, frantically and unconsciously devouring the planet and its resources. Our actions, like the ants, suggest we've been using this amazing planet without awareness that we're participants in a sacred process. I would feel some consolation knowing the ants were honoring of the worm as they raced around and over it. In my human way, I assumed they were not. It was hard to feel anything sacred in the process I witnessed.

I could step back and see how I was the ant in other ways. In the prior story, I became the human ambulance rushing down the sidewalk to get the little worm to my garden. I momentarily went unconscious. Letting fear run me, I temporarily quit listening. The ant's reminded me of the part of me that gets compulsive, that hurries and scurries fearing the Universe will run out of ideas. How can I expect the ants to rest into knowing and trust that my garden is filled with a cornucopia of composting material sustenance to last the winter when I forget the Universe is about abundance? It overflows with material to be composted creatively for soul filling sustenance.

Intellectually I summoned all kinds of parallels, but I still could not watch the ants feeding on the earthworm. I had formed an attachment to the little worm that had been my teacher in a short time earlier that morning.

"Well, that's the problem," a Buddhist might say. "This is why we practice non-attachment."

I do not like good-byes. I do not like endings yet the idea of non-attachment has never appealed to me. I've felt it could be used to create emotional distance, a wall of sorts, keeping one from being engaged with the world, in my present situation with the worm.

I determined that if I'm truly going to be at home in the Universe I needed to witness the process of life occurring under the fern with my senses and heart open, otherwise I was practicing my own version of non-attachment, distant and shut down.

I returned to the garden, not sadistically to cause myself pain but to see if I could be a curious and compassionate witness to this aspect of nature and thereby glean something deeper.

Doing so did not alleviate my discomfort. I felt love for the little being that had in such a short time reminded me of the heart of the world and myself. Something that is repulsive, icky to most people had come to represent an aspect of beauty to me while reminding me of my own beauty.

Ah, my insides relaxed as I came upon the key to my discomfort. I had stumbled into what was so troubling, beauty was under attack. This explained my strong reaction not only to the ant and worm, but to the aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska, the practice of raiding bear dens in Russia while killing the mothers and leaving thousands of cubs orphaned as well as coal mining practices that have so far left hundreds of mountain tops barren in Appalachia. In all these situations beauty seems to be under attack.

I had kicked myself for having gotten involved in the worm's journey. My intentions may have been loving, but they had gotten it eaten. Now I was grateful for yet another lesson shown by the smaller of Creator's creatures.

But class was not over yet. My next assignment was to find a way to see the ants as part of the heart, creatures of beauty, to not just see the mystery in the mundane, but to see the mystery at work in aspects of life that trouble me, like animals being stalked and mountains tops destroyed. Where is the 'good news' in these situations? How is the sacred showing up in these things? As the worm shared its energy on many levels with the ants and me, I would be digesting all of this for time to come.

To be continued..... - Dawn! The Good News Muse

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