I have just moved
into a new place, in a new neighborhood, and actually in a new country. As we all know this is considered one of life’s major stresses. And let me tell you, it is. My body doesn’t know where it is, I feel disoriented and not fully myself. I have lived in this country before and even in this city, so that is not actually new, but the neighborhood is new for me. And I recognize that my body doesn’t yet know that I belong here. It’s missing it’s usually signs and clues that tell me this is home. And so it can’t communicate that to my brain.
So I have been taking my body on long walks around this new place. I’m trying to let it get familiar with this new territory. Showing it where I live now. And as is my custom after many years of silent seated and walking meditations, I am doing my best to slow down…way down. And actually see and hear and smell and even touch what is around me. I am walking at a pace that I can notice each footstep I take and use the soles of my feet as they land upon this new earth to lay a blessing upon it and say I acknowledge you.
This earth is alive.
We get so wrapped up in a world of cars, concrete and cell phones that we forget this is not the world. It is one tiny slice of human creation on a vast planet of God’s creation. Ninety-five percent of us live on about ten percent of this land. But yet we have an innate sense that the world is of our doing and that we can always do more, heck, even need to do more. More. More. More.
But how often do we leave the cars, concrete and especially cell phones and actually recognize that we live upon this earth. That it provides the vital substances that keep our bodies alive. And it is even the substances of which these earthly bodies are actually made - air, water and minerals.
We have lost our basic connection to the earth when we whizz by it and live inside away from it, when our focus is on a screen. Most of us will probably not leave it all behind but that doesn’t mean that we can’t become more connected to this earth.
As I take my walks around this new urban neighborhood I try to slow down to the pace of nature. You rarely see any of the rest of creation moving in such a hurry unless they are running from a predator or towards prey. But we are always in a hurry, dominated by a clock and deadlines.
When I slow down I begin to notice that there are trees, birds, squirrels, flowers, grass…the earth is right here in my neighborhood. And these species all form a community that is (mostly) in harmony. What I forget is that I am actually a part of this community as well. I pass the same trees, the same grass, the same flowers, probably the same squirrels and birds every day. They are my neighbors. Whether I recognize it or not, I am a part of a larger community that is not made up only of human beings. There are other beings here, I am a part of this earth, of creation.
At this slow pace I begin to sense, as did Saint Francis, that the trees and birds and all of creation are my brothers and sisters. They see me and I see them. This is not a fairy tale of Snow White or Cinderella in the forest or even “tree huggers”. This is actually reality. These are live beings - we live here together - human, tree, squirrel, bird, beings.
We think that our world is what we humans have made and we live in the middle of it. We are sort of like those folks who thought they were so cool making the tower of Babel. But we forget that the earth is much larger and mighty and essential than we are and that God created all of this. And left it in our care. But how can we care for something until we care about it. And how can we care about it if we never even think about it?
Go for a walk, in your neighborhood, meet your neighbors with whom you share this earth. You will never feel truly alone again. Receive their essence and give yours back to them. Get connected to this beautiful Creation.