Heron on Swamp Road
Driving on Swamp Road and being interrupted by a gaggle of adult and adolescent geese waddling across the road reminded me of the powerful and precious teaching from this beautiful poem by Wendell Barry. Give yourself the gift of relaxing into his words.
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
We share the earth with a parade of majestic critters; some sleep on our beds, some in the forest. How can be pay more attention to them? How can we draw on their presence, their peace, to enhance our own? Here are some simple ideas to contemplate—
- For Our Animal Companions at Home: Don’t be fooled by the critters with whom you live. Just because they are snoring on your couch and wearing the sweater you knitted for them doesn’t mean they aren’t a hair away from deep, elemental wildness. Watch them—open to them. Notice when the wild reveals itself. What an opportunity we have, to live with something, with someone who has learned to cooperate within the human system, yet, in a heartbeat, is wild and fully natural, living in the rhythms of the earth in ways our human minds cannot imagine.
- For the Birds: Listen. Notice differences in their chirps, dependent upon the time of day. Watch. Do they feed alone? What is their flight like? What species of bird opens your heart the most? Look on line—get a book. There are extraordinary helpful guide books to assist in your bird listening/watching.
- For You City-Dwellers: No exemption is granted you from this experience; perhaps you will have to look more carefully. Go to a park. Notice the trees. Watch the squirrels. What seems to be happening in the Land of Squirrels? How do the animals interface, if at all, with the human participants in the moment? The bunnies and birds around Kripalu appear fully entrained in knowing that people are safe and, if you are adorable enough, you will be fed. This, of course, has both an up and down side.
- For Our Brains—Evidence-Based Data: Remember. Do you have any past experiences of animal intervention, an animal calling you back to center and self? Do you have any experience of animal communication, in which you were fully assured of the communication offered you? Has an animal visited you in a dream? Has an animal, known or not, been part of your healing journey? When? How?
According to researchers at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, we share our planet with 8.7 million species, not counting bacteria, just in case you might be. Nearly 6.5 million of these live on land, while 2.2 million live in the ocean. We are not alone here. Let’s open our eyes, let’s relax our hearts; let’s draw on our glorious partners in our homes and out.
To the feathered, the furry; to the fuzzy and the hoofed—
To all the sizes and shapes of beings who walk this earth with us—
May we see you,
May we shepherd your safety always
May we rest in the arms of your silent depth.
Dear Readers, dear friends, do let me know your animal experiences, currently or in the past. Please keep me posted. I am firstname.lastname@example.org.