I was walking the land we live on, which is something I do on a fairly regular basis. Oh, I have my regular sit spot where I go just to be still and observe the landscape, both inner and outer, but walking the land is a different exercise. When I am walking, I am checking to see what is happening in the natural world as I move through it. Where has the fox decided to den this year? What birds are nesting in which trees? How much fresh pitch is flowing from the pine trees? What herbs and flowers are blooming? Are our beehives getting ready to swarm? I’m slowly moving along with mindful awareness, open to experience.
It took many years for me to be able to do this. It seems like such a simple thing to just walk and be present. But is it really? The mind is constantly clambering, and shoving every distraction it can come up with, into our consciousness. What should I make for dinner? I wonder what’s going on at work. Is so and so angry with me because I said such and such? Did I forget to turn off the gas in the forge? You get the picture – our mind, our most powerful tool, can also be our greatest bewilderment.
Mindfully paying attention on purpose, in the present moment with curiosity, is no easy task. Our world is overfull of information coming at us as in a constant barrage of sound and image from television, social media, and radio. Ads scream for attention, memes look for likes and shares, and soundbites try to draw us in. We are served an endless litany that drives want and desire. It’s easy to get pulled in and to lose sight of what is actually important. A few months ago, I made the decision to button up my social media account. I maximized all my privacy settings and turned off the notifications. At first, it was kind of distressing to not be in constant contact to that which I’d become accustomed. It was a big change.
Not spending so much time on my phone or tablet has reminded me of many things. Years ago, I received a teaching that said experience is not twice given. Something does not happen out there and then again inside of us where it is processed. Our lived experience happens externally and internally at the same time. We and the natural world are born afresh together as one in every moment. What a beautiful gift. We don’t create our own reality. Reality occurs where perception meets perspective. It is where what we are looking at meets where we are looking from.
When we look from our authenticity without bypassing, something magical happens. We see the abundance of our being. All the parts that we have shoved away as being without merit are revealed as the gems that they truly are. When we say every part of me is welcome here, our perspective changes. The weight of expectation shifts, and we are able to have our experiences rather than collect them. This is a big distinction. When we interact with nature as nature, we are being our truest self.
A couple months ago Jonathan Hammond gave us an incredible piece. In it he described how honoring our inner truth and authenticity makes us "dangerous". This really resonated for me. Looking around at the constructed modern world, there is little space for us to just be a unique spark of the universe learning about itself through play. The time for each of us to be just that is here. Now, please take the time to head out into the natural world wherever that is for you and sit, walk, notice, and be openly curious.
I would leave you with a quote from Martin Shaw. I think it mirrors what Jonathan said, "No more tame language about wild things".
From my heart to yours,
Christopher T. Franza, OMEC Board of Directors
a sense of belonging
It’s the 10-year anniversary of OMEC so let's celebrate with inspired poetry and prose.
The 6-week virtual spring gathering for the nature-inspired writing course, Remembering Our Place in the Sacred Circle of Life, that I (Christina Burress) recently completed facilitating brought participants together via Zoom from Norway, England, and the US, including New York, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and California.
We started simply. Our daily intention was to spend at least 5-minutes outside as a way of strengthening our senses and deepening our connection with the natural world. Then each week, participants were offered curated materials with a particular focus like gratitude for our ancestry, recognition of our land of origin, the interplay of the elements, our interconnection with animal and plant kin, and the configuration of our geographical environs. During our last meeting, I asked participants if anything had shifted for them – had a new story merged? Overwhelmingly, the responses included an increased sense of belonging.
The writing that follows is a glimpse of the type of artful expression inspired from the simple practice of noticing, engaging, and dialoguing with nature.
MOUNTAINS AND BORDERS
by Jessica Deguara
One teaspoon at a time
Mountains are moved to the ocean.
It seems impossible, incomprehensible
That this is so.
But it is so, and beyond the limits of the human mind.
The Earth has been here for eons,
Composite of compounds and elements from
Galactic explosions at the beginning of time.
It humbles me to know how short a moment
We humans have been here on the Earth
And what a calamitous mess we have
Made of it.
Where did we go wrong?
Was it some evolutionary mistake?
Are we writing ourselves out of history now?
As Mountains continue to move from
high peaks to oceans over millions of years
One teaspoon at a time.
What the silence said:
What do you love more than what you imagine is your singular life?
This is the fundamental problem of humans:
Imagining we are all separate:
Not Whole or One:
That this is where we come from and are.
Evolved with this sense of separateness, individuality
We create borders and divisions.
Can we begin to dissolve these solid walls perhaps a teaspoon at a time, one breath?
(A bucketful would be better as there’s an urgency here.)
Love our oneness more than singularity?
To connect to our Soul and the Oneness of all beings and the Universe,
Is the new beginning,
The New Earth, the formation of a new landscape,
where we merge and are in harmony
with the ebb and flow of life and death
Lose our definitions, become softer, flow, as One,
One breath at a time.
by Jill P.
suspended in air, tasting nectar,
a moment of joy and all melts into everything,
leaving you and me in focus,
connecting through thought,
flitting from flower to flower tasting the sweetness offered,
curiosity and innocence blend into wholehearted love,
boundaries broken as our bubbles of energy connect and merge,
the buzz of a bee brings me back to the beginning,
watching a hummingbird, tasting nectar from the lemon flower.
Dear future children of the world,
There will probably be moments when you will feel lonely, sad, and truly lost. In Those moments when you will be desperately searching for truth – some words you can rely on – but there might be none around you. Well, in bouts of despair, find a tree, a stone or a hill, and lean on it. Suddenly, you will feel a strong wall behind your back, the warmth and shagginess of the bark under your hand, and the chilliness of the sand under your feet. You will feel a fundamental power of life around you that moves clouds in the sky, assists mountains to take their shape, encourages birds to sing their best song, and empowers tiny creatures to build their castles… They all work hard to fill the space around you with their lives, and you are always invited to fill theirs with yours.
I invite you to explore the programs offered through the Olympic Mountain EarthWisdom Circle (OMEC). Each of these programs encourage a sacred and responsible relationship with the Earth, supporting us to move wakefully through personal and planetary change.
Remembering Our Place in the Sacred Circle of Life is offered again in the Fall from September 6th to October 11th. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. I hope to see you there.
From my heart to yours,
OMEC Board Member