Wednesday Withnessing: Awaken to Her Gifts

“What would it be like to be raised on gratitude, to speak to the natural world as a member of the democracy of the species, to raise a pledge of interdependence? No declarations of political loyalty are required, just a response to a repeated question: Can we agree to be grateful for all that is given?"  ~Robin Wall Kimmerer from Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Over the weekend, I was invited to a mini workshop as a gift of gratitude from a dear friend and teacher. As we circled together for introductions, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief in the awareness that I was encircled by quality humans— a collective of wise, generous, reflective women with a shared devotion to cultivating connection and a deepening commitment to ourselves and the world.  The relief came with remembering that not all humans suck, something that I have been struggling to remember in the barrage of bad news. I felt lifted by the individual and shared intentions to re-center towards loving kindness, gratitude and mindful attention. 

From the circle we transitioned into our individual spaces for a movement lesson. Beginning on our backs, we were invited to release our weight, our tension, our whole selves to the support of the ground. Though this wasn't my first time to allow myself to drop into the supportive Earth, something about this time was different. Rather than simply sensing the firm ground under me and softening into that support, I experienced an intense connection with the energy of Mother Earth. It wasn't an intellectual awareness but a fully embodied sense of being held and rooted in her love.  I was a profoundly aware of her offerings, her life-sustaining gifts, parts of her that are suffering, the implications of human choices, my own grief in relationship to this sacred Mother that we call home. As the movement lesson continued, tears rolled gently from my eyes. It was different than crying. It felt as if the Earth and I were communing together in this moment grief and gratitude, awakening and renewal. It felt like a much needed reminder and release.

In the days since, I have been reflecting on my current work. Sometimes it seems a small thing to spend time attending to the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Sometimes I wonder if it matters that I've noticed a robin building a nest or heard the alarm call of a quail as he watches out for the safety of his wee ones. How important is it that I recognize the subtle signs and shifts within a season? Who benefits if I pause to appreciate the flow of a rushing stream or stand in awe of a thundering cloudscape? 

What I know for sure is that everyday I am touched by the life-sustaining gifts of Mother Earth. We all are. It is never a small thing to attend to her offerings with mindful attention and a grateful heart. It is never a small thing to grieve what is no longer here or want to conserve what could be lost.  It is never a small thing to plant one seed, to find contentment in the company of trees, or to advocate for the preservation of ocean life. It is never a small thing to learn from winged messengers or sing praises for the sun's morning light. It isn't a small thing to breathe clean air or have clean water to drink. It is never a small thing to recognize the interdependence of all life. Life touches life touches life.

It is my desire that what I offer in the way of beauty and attention can awaken others to the gifts of the natural world. It is my wish that my way in the world will inspire a ripple of grateful and restorative actions that help to heal and preserve these gifts.