Thursday, June 24, 2010

Marry the Earth

The abundantly blossomed flowering shrub down the street was the first thing I smelled this morning. I was walking, hot and sweaty, just wanting to get "walk" checked off my list when suddenly a sweet scent got my sensory attention. I stopped to take a smell. This woke me. The remainder of my walk was spent engaged with nature. I imagine and can some times feel a circle of sorts, an energetic cycle of giving and receiving between me and the trees, the neatly mowed yards and shrubs that line the sidewalk even on my busy Nashville street.

I returned home to see the first opening star gazer lily of summer. I had walked right past it in my earlier stupor. The lily and its kin will blossom over the coming two weeks if we're fortunate among the balloon flowers and calla lilies then they will return to earth for another year.

It seems like yesterday I was noticing the first bats flitting about in the dusk sky and lightening bugs, twinkling earth stars emerging from grass.

The brief lives of flowers and creatures provide us beauty. How is it we become anesthetized, our senses dull to the wonders of nature?

In childhood we see through eyes of wonder. Every thing is a first. Then as we approach the other end of life's continuum in our older years something similar happens. Our literal sight may diminish, but a gift of sight returns through the lens of wonder.

I'll never forget my mother a couple of years ago opening the back door to walk onto our deck one morning and exclaiming, "Look! The leaves look like rose petals strewn for a wedding." In a moment of transcendence, the ordinary became the extraordinary. I saw it too, a trail of fall leaves laid down an aisle awaiting a marriage.

Not long after this I stood in our backyard surrounded in fog under the full moon. I stood thanking the trees for sharing life's journey. I circled round and round as I thanked the tall trees, the old ones, the middle age trees and the small ones. And as I circled I heard: Marry the Earth.

It's not often that I share the things I hear. For me these messages are personal. I want to tend them, keep them to myself. But in these times, this is one I must share.

Marriage is connected to what I realized on my walk. When we initially fall in love, we see as children do, we see 'the other' through eyes of wonder. As the new fades and we think we've secured or 'caught' the other, our brain chemistry plateaus and finds a new normal. We then get relationally lazy, or at least I do. Gone by the way are the thank you's, the long conversations, the kind gestures. The early rituals that meant so much fall by the way. We get into ruts, fall into bad habits that are far from the wonder and curiosity that comes easily in the beginning.

Then for the few couples who stay together long enough, the lens shifts as couples age together or confront a crisis calling up an essence of remembrance of what they loved about the other originally. They return to wonder.

How does this relate to marrying the Earth? Early in life, we are mesmerized by nature. Remember your first necklace made of clover or the first time you realized you could make horn noises on a blade of grass? Remember rolling down a hill, even a small incline, and trying to stand only to fall down again? Remember seeing your first June bug or image in the clouds? Mesmerized in the moment, we are married to Earth.

Then we grow up and become disconnected in a variety of ways. We are pushed way too soon to decide what we're going to become rather than being taught life is a continual becoming who we are. We are always becoming. Most of us are "educated" out of our bodies and spirits. We're taught to value the mind and even that is in a limited way. The concrete, asphalt and bright lights of city and urban life contribute to our separation from Earth and ourselves. Most times we don't even realize we're divorced from Earth and nature.

Then as with relationships as we age, this love affair with Earth is sometimes rekindled. My friend Russ in his 80's is a great example of this. He writes poetry often inspired by nature and Earth's turnings although he didn't start writing poetry until his 70's and until 50 he was a minister and administrator.

"Marry the Earth," the voice said to me. Let us in these times invite a sense of wonder and marry the Earth in our heart and our ways. She has held us at our best and our worst, in our sickness and health. She has loved us and cherished us. And although our choices and actions have created situations literally diminishing her while killing her children, the plants and animals, she is constant, continuing to provide all we need for life. Even in our death she accepts our bodies as they return to her.

My simple words seem so very limited compared to the beauty of her commitment to us. I now challenge you as the voice said to me, "Marry the Earth."
-Dawn, The Good News Muse June 2010

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