There is a quote on our refrigerator that from a distance seems to read “Change the World”. Only when you come closer can you read the entire quote –
to see in the
My children – sometimes, I think – may grow weary of my soapbox speeches, of my going through the garbage pulling out items, demanding “who put this recyclable in the garbage?!” holding high the hapless yogurt cup, the macaroni & cheese box, the un-rinsed soup can, as they stick their faces deeper into their assorted books, avoiding all eye contact. -But be careful what you wish for- because now the van we drive, or my purse - when we walk often has a collection of recyclable items mucking about inside them that we are forever taking home to put out with our recycling, because the kids will NOT throw it in a garbage can. Each week our house “wins” for the biggest recycling heap – 4 containers usually, sometimes with extra Trader Joe’s bags as well.
So why? Why bother? Why drive my children crazy – other than the obvious? – it would be easier just to leave things as they are, NOT stir the pot, NOT make my children worry and care for our planet and its inhabitants. Why have I chosen the more difficult path, and taken my children down it with me? - If you would like a very entertaining answer – ask one of my children directly.
I do it because of them, in spite of them, for them, and for myself. I did it before they were gleams in my eye, I do it when no one is looking, and I will do it when they have grown up and I am on my own.
As a child, I could never grasp the idea of the father figure, of the all knowing God. What I did grasp was the trees, their branches, their leaves to peek out of. I grasped the dirt, I grasped handfuls dandy lions and hid them in secret places, amazed when their tight yellow faces popped into white lacy finger tips. I touched the creek’s cold water, reached for escaping fish, grasped grouchy crayfish and soon send them scuttling back to their rocky homes. I spent hours watching birds and animals – I still do these things - and retain my childhood awe and wonder at nature’s innate wisdom and perfection. My garage contains many ‘bulk sacks’ of dog, cat, rat & gerbil food plus sacs of different types of bird seeds, piles of suet cakes, and peanuts and corn for chipmunks & squirrels. I choose to surround myself in life.
I wrote this on a weekend spiritual retreat I went on last spring. It’s called river
Has there always been such green
all and each
so richly saturated
with this chromatic life,
these leaves, spirits within living stories,
and in between
each and one another
in their lilting seduction of
wind and sun?
did they do this yesterday?
did they flicker in this coquettish glee
inside my footfalls
sun tickling tenderly
each surface - so thoughtfully webbed-
while in their turn they reached
to lick the honeyed beams
along this muddied path
to water’s edge.
I walk to sense the flowing strength
flirting within twinkling beams
and to caress,
between reflective ripples,
smooth slippery stones
filled with energy.
will there always be
Will there always be such life?
This I cannot not answer, for it is a question that is beyond my comprehension.
I know my understanding of life depends on the soil upon which I stand the sky into which I gaze, and on the energy and unbelievable beauty of life on this planet. All are a precious gift freely given by earth and sky together, not only for us, but for all creation. For me, the spark of the divine is in blades of grass, in spring time robins, in heavy purple gray storm clouds and in the eyes of animals and of people.
Mary Oliver has a marvelous poem that says this for me it’s called The Summer Day
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan,
and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, --and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, -- what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me,-- what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do -- with your one wild and precious life?
As the poet Rumi says “There are a thousand ways we can kneel and kiss the earth”