When I’m in nature, I see all around me the thing I cannot find in manmade systems of commerce and controls. I see truth. I see raw, unadulterated, unconcerned truth. I can retreat into the bosom of the forest and just observe with humility as all of Creation teaches me. There’s never any promises of blissful comforts in exchange for my cooperation. I am not offered protection from her wildness and danger if I remain quiet. There are no bargains to be made at all, it’s a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition.
Beauty and horror. Peace and fear. Acceptance and challenge. All of life into death and back around again.
And, of course, you could remove “nature” from that paragraph and replace it with us, with our bodies, our wondrous, autonomous selves, but there really is no need. The more truthful approach is to understand that the words are interchangeable as they stand. There is no division. No you, no me, no individual tree. We are all enmeshed and entwined in this wondrous dance of life and soon enough, the mysterious dance of death.
When I think about this now, it’s with sorrow ringing the edges. I wonder, how can we talk about the very essence of our existence, live like it matters, when so many of us have been cleaved off from the very source of our humanity? There are so many hungry souls looking for their touchstones of truth, not even knowing what that gnawing pain is. Raised on concrete, in buildings made of sticks and paper board that swells and crumbles from the mere touch of water. Subsisting on food that dulls instead nourishes. Sold a myriad of distractions and addictions to give momentary relief from the relentless unease.
Imagine if those plagued by, controlled by, and motivated by their fear of death were shown life? What if people could speak about their immune systems, their powerful thumping hearts, the blood that rushes through their veins, with as much zeal and passion as they do the slogans of drug companies? I imagine that. I wonder, if our bodies were made of glass and we could see each fantastical function in real time - the building and cleansing and pumping and thumping and squeezing! Would we still so callously throw away the magnificence of creation for the words of a profiteer.
Of course, the glass bodies would probably just lead to more neurosis and either way, that’s not going to happen. And that’s part of our story, too - the connection we must build with our bodies and spirits, with nature, with our source of life, in our understanding of what life even is. There is faith there. Faith that builds and spreads throughout us, into us, and around us. My body has brought me to where I am. I have been so sick that I thought that might be the end. I have knowledge about my immune system, albeit limited by what we know in science which will never fully explain the wholeness of us. Pieces maybe, but pieces are dishonest.
There is a grief that lays over me like a leaden cloak. It bends my back and pushes my head to the ground. It has moulded itself into every space crevice within me. So completely has it taken hold that I have come to realise that I am helpless to do anything but surrender. I cannot fight it and I do not want to. My grief holds my love and I am at its mercy. Our youngest daughter died earlier this year. That sentence still makes me catch my breath. My heart, reading those vile, wretched words, stops beating for a moment in disbelief. “Well then how are we still here?” it asks. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
There is nothing else to say about that at this time. Another time, perhaps, but not this time. I share that only to say that it’s I, Ms. Death Story Teller, the one that tried to convince you all that death was not to be feared, that holding death close, brought life closer. I was even talking to book publishers about the book I was working on that spoke of life on the farm, about death and the beauty in all of it. And now, here we are with death so close it suffocates us at times. Grief so pervasive, not a breath is taken without it riding in on our oxygen.
But that is not for today. It is for my today, my every moment, but not for yours. Another time, maybe. I share this only to say that the worst imaginings of any human parent is our realty. And in that, I now live.
In this time of great, manufactured, divisiveness, we must be measured with what we allow in. Nature, our God (however you see God - I use that word interchangeably with our Creator), does not understand fragments or individuals. Those are only constructs sold to us from a young age in a culture bereft of culture. Return to the earth, to soil between your toes, to a handful of cedar leaves crushed between your fingers and inhaled into your every atom. Smell that? The wonder of the cosmos swirling through little ole’ you.
Lies are ugly. They are easily brushed away by the sound of a raven’s wingbeats overhead. They cannot survive in the face of moonlight, they wither under blue skies and sunshine. Try it. Head out to a stream or a forest, the mountains and the sea, with the latest headline of doom and despair in your mind. Throw it out into the winds like a handful of seeds and watch what happens. Nothing. There is nothing to flourish, nothing to grow or bloom. It’s not even dead because it was never alive. A lump of manufactured plastic at your feet.
How do we tell people this? How do I burn all of the papers and jam the radio signals, steal the televisions and soften the hearts of the lost and dispossessed? How do I kidnap the little children with faces covered, and fear of their own miraculous bodies in their consciousness? I can’t of course. I cannot do a thing about it. I remind myself to allow others to live in the story of their time and to be purposeful and mindful with mine.
And who am I anyways? I am nobody. I am a speck of a filament of an idea. Nothing at all. But I am also a speck of all of creation, a mystical, magical being loved enough to be given this time with all of this beauty and love should I choose to be a part of it.
I choose to be a part.