Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Touch the Earth


They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
~Joni Mitchell

Every other weekend, I leave my urban home to spend a few days at my forest cabin. Two weeks ago, I missed my usual weekend because I was sick. So when I went this last weekend I had been four weeks away.

I always savor the moment I arrive, stepping out of the car into the embrace of the trees, hearing the welcome song of the creek, marveling at all the shades of green, breathing the forest scented oxygen. This time, after several weeks’ absence, it was so intense I was downright giddy with gratitude and joy.

And I was struck by something else – I looked around and thought, there is so much earth here! Everywhere I looked, there was the forest floor, rich, fertile earth supporting cloud touching evergreens, smaller rhododendrons and maples, and a profusion of ferns and other plants.

My neighborhood at home is very green by most city standards, with large shade trees and lush gardens. But still, now that I thought about it, so much ground is covered up by buildings, sidewalks, streets, artificial grass, and yes Joni, parking lots. How often during the course of a normal day do I actually touch the earth?

In Greek mythology, Antaeus was the son of Mother Earth and was invincible in battle as long as he was in contact with her. He was killed only when Heracles figured out the source of his strength and held him in the air to finish him off.

I wonder if some part of my deep body, mind, and soul nurturing at the cabin is due to the amount of time I spend in direct connection to the earth. I wonder if I could be more mindful of that even in my urban life. My yard is not big, but I could practice taiji on my little patch of grass instead of on the carpet inside, for example. I could detour through a park on my walks with the dog. I don’t know if I will sense a difference but I’m curious.

Buddha sat on the earth under the bodhi tree waiting for enlightenment. And when awakening occurred, it is said that he touched the earth with his hand as his witness. The earth is mother to us all and bears witness to everything that happens.

What will the earth bear witness to in my life?

[W]e touch the ground by arriving, on the spot, in this moment. We touch the ground by directly connecting with the earth, the life of our bodies, our breath and our inner weather. We touch the ground by looking directly into the awareness that is the very source of our life. As we connect with what is right in front of us, we realize the true immensity of who we are. ~Tara Brach

8 comments:

  1. I've always felt the best church was nature... so much of God's glory everywhere you look.

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  2. I've never felt more connected to God and to myself when I've been engaged in tilling the earth, be it in times past, when I had the ways and means to grow a garden, or just in placing plants lovingly in pots that are destined to decorate our porch. The soil, the earth, is alive and vibrant. We can connect when we are willing. God can speak to us right there and then.
    Blessings, Galen!

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    1. I guess I've always known that, Martha, but somehow, this last visit to the forest made it so completely real to me. I know you love your gardening, and I love all your photos!

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  3. Perhaps that is one reason why gardening is so satisfying. Putting one's hands into the earth and planting flowers and veggies always makes me feel better and raises my spirits. Lovely to contemplate walking on the soft grass without shoes, too. :-)

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    1. My mother was an avid and talented gardener. She would go out in the evenings and work in the garden. It brought her a lot of peace and joy. Somehow I didn't pick it up from her, although I do enjoy lovely gardens. And yes, sometimes I practice taiji barefoot in the forest or in my back yard. Very different experience having my feet in direct contact with the earth without the barrier of shoes.

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  4. 'I always savor the moment I arrive, stepping out of the car into the embrace of the trees, hearing the welcome song of the creek, marveling at all the shades of green, breathing the forest scented oxygen. This time, after several weeks’ absence, it was so intense I was downright giddy with gratitude and joy.'

    Galen, I want to comment on so much you wrote, here.

    This is very similar to my experience when I walk in the wild woods of Newfoundland. I am here now. I get out alone in the untouched woods as often as I can. I am also sometimes giddy with excitement at the visual and spiritual experience of being in spirit with nature. There is something about walking slowly, stopping often, looking, smelling, listening, tasting wild berries, feeling presence, now...taking it all in . I can almost get to a state of euphoria at times. Life is amazing if we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart open to allowing the process of realization to happen.

    This connection to the earth is so important, it is our life source after all. There is one consciousness in every plant, tree and creature. The whole earth is one living being, its all interconnected.

    Good post Galen.

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