Come for a walk with me. Sit your rational mind down at the table with a to-do list and a cup of tea, and bring your heart for a walk. Let’s take ourselves down to a quiet place where you can see the sun, cresting the trees, or peeking over the mountain, or by your neighbour’s house. Just making its presence felt.
I do this, many mornings, inspired by Kerry McCann from Laughing Crow Organics, who told me once that she and sometimes also her farm partner Andrew Budgell would often start the day taking an early walk around the fields, drinking coffee, farm dog trailing along, noticing, observing, planning out the tasks. We were crunching through the snow around one sleeping field, as she told me this, and I was wondering if I should hit the record button on my phone, whether the interview had started already. The article would come out almost a year later. The daily walk has stayed with me, become part of my routine. Often, over the crunch of my footsteps, I’ll send a little nod to Kerry for planting that seed.
Let your heart lead your feet. It’s a strange way to move through the world – more of a ramble than a power-walk (or Nature-march, when you’re on a mission to blaze the trail, get to the summit, get in a workout). It helps if you feel as if you have all the time in the world, even if you only have 30 minutes, between getting everyone off to their days, and getting yours underway. It helps if you left your phone behind. It helps if you don’t care if people see you talking to yourself. (This can take a while, haha, but it gets easier.) Because it’s nice to greet what you see. Say hi to the crabapple that was just transplanted and share your hope that it’s roots are settling in to the new spot and finding receptive places in the earth to stretch into. Pay a compliment to the cherry tree – looking lovely today. Depending on the season, notice a little purple flower of self-heal (prunella vulgaris), and greet it with happy surprise, oh hello there, how nice to see you! Feel crazy, sure, but remember your rational mind is not here, it’s busy beavering away with fierce concentration over another boring to-do list.
This particular morning, just days after pounding rains drenched everything and turned the earth into squelch and slip-slide and puddle and dam and mudslide and brought the worms out until even they found somewhere to tuck themselves away, this morning, everything has a layer of frost on it, and your feet crunch and sink an inch, on pine needles and leaves that one day will be fully digested as earth, but right now, are some kind of blanket, and send your greeting below, into the warm dark mystery places, and all the life that is busy there, out of sight, life-ing away. And notice the crunch, the smell, the burn of cold on your cheek and ear tips.
Maybe you’ve greeted all these beings by name, in Latin, or in Ucwalmictws, or French, or English, whichever comes to you, or wordlessly, with a nod, or with the spring in your step that gets a little bouncier with each stride, or just with a singing heart, good morning good morning good morning. And maybe, if we had a certain way of seeing, if we were able to know what happens in our wake, what we actually leave behind, what the echo of our passing through the world sounds and feels like, maybe we’d even see all those beings greeting us back, flowering and shivering in delight, having been reminded of their own loveliness, by the gift of our attention.
If your heart has taken the lead now, if you’ve fallen into that space of reverie where you’re not really thinking anymore, you’ll find yourself come to an almost automatic stop, right at the place where the sun is beaming its light through the trees, over the mountain or roof, around the building… You’ll stop there with a sigh.
And you’ll feel some kind of blessing rain down on you – rise up to you. And maybe you’ll have the clearest sense you’ve ever had, that the sun is your father, that you are the product of a swirl of star dust and cosmic vibes and flecks of the universe, that you, yourself are a planet, a galaxy. And at the same time, you’ll feel the fleshiness of your flesh, the organism of your body, and you’ll know that the earth is your mother, that you are the bones and body of the earth, that you are a biome. And you’ll think about Pat McCabe saying that each morning, when the sun greets the earth, she shivers with delight at his loving attention, she unfurls, she is reminded of her loveliness, with that first touch of warmth and light that he shines on her. And you’ll think, only not with your mind, which would analyze and parse and rebut and reject such silliness, but with your heart-mind, which speaks in metaphors and sensations and flickers of image and intuition, and falls in love instantly and shoots spidey-sensey-shivers when something is amiss… this part of you, will feel as if you could cry, for this feeling, of being a beloved child, of cosmos, of planet, of sun and of earth.
And you’ll remember Pat McCabe saying that we humans are the newest species to emerge out of this great cosmic love affair, this energetic creative exchange between the star at the heart of our solar system, and this water-rich blue planet with its perfect calibration of oxygen and carbon dioxide to sustain life. Humans are the youngest, having emerged after the rocks and stones and mountains, after the plants and trees. And even if you’re an oldest child in your human family, the little nuclear family you were taught to think of as the extent of your family, even if you’re accustomed to being the responsible one, you’ll revel, for a moment, in the delight of being the baby, in this larger family, and you know, as everyone knows, what it is to be the baby – to be so adored and indulged. Even when you grow up, you’re always the baby, the precious one. Everything you do, even if it’s messy or bumbly, you are looked upon with fondness, with patience, with affection.
And you’ll think, this is who we are.
Beloved of the Earth and cosmos.
This is who we all are.
And you’ll think again of Pat McCabe, and how she said, “it’s a bad time for humanity, we have very low self-esteem, we’ve come to think that everything we touch gets ruined.” And then she says, three times, in her beautiful low strong voice: “Not so. Not so. Not so.” And all your armour will let go in that moment. Will drop to the ground. And you will feel the deep yearning you had, to be reminded of this. That you are part of this remarkable, mind-blowing, heart expanding kinship, you are the product of the most remarkable love affair, of sun and earth, you are beloved on this earth.
Let the sun announce the morning, let the sun touch the earth and invite things to unfurl, let the moment remind you of your loveliness. And then go out into the day, and with your gaze, or your words, or your touch, or the spring in your step, remind as many things as you can, as many beings, human, more-than-human, of their loveliness.
We are the youngest species to emerge out of the Life on Earth experiment. We make big messes, as we learn. And it’s okay, it’s part of growing. As long as we learn. And let us root our learning in this deep belonging and beloved-ness. We are not separate. We are not alone. We are not singularly responsible. We just need to listen. And know our place.