11/14/20 – Earth
It’s the first gratitude day of Waiting with the Dark when we are inspired by the element of earth to appreciate all things physical, natural, solid. Instead of sitting in meditation, I go for a gratitude walk, doing the circuit I did all spring when we were under stay at home orders.
The sky is bright blue and the sun shining draws my attention upward. The trees are bare of leaves. Towering shapes are revealed and high up in branches I see nests, empty now but I know they brought forth the next generations of sparrows, robins, orioles. All the birds that sang to me as New England warmed.
I arrive at the pond and pause. The sky’s reflection turns the water blue except at the edges. Here I see down to the mud and it reminds me of the white lotus and green lily pads that bloomed here.
I walk on, feel the ground under my feet, think: The earth always holds us, steadies us.
In the same moment I remember the earth on fire in Australia, California, all over the west. Communities were devastated. Too many died. And in a number hard to hold, three billion more-than-human beings left the planet. When it happened in the spring I stood on the edge of that number and skirted away, but walking today I let it sink in and it is horrific. Billions, yes, billions of koalas, foxes, rabbits, deer dead and their habitat destroyed. The earth didn’t hold them.
I walk on and encounter the Catalpa tree I watched bud, leaf, and bloom with a lushness that seems more of the Tropics than New England. It’s a skeleton now, branches of somber sticks and there are these long slim pods of deep brown. The seeds of the next generation. They wait for late winter or early spring to let go winged seeds to seek some moist ground in which to plant themselves.
Life is fragile and fleeting, subject to natural and human-caused storms. And we humans are driving the earth’s systems to the edge of collapse. But life is also, inventive, persistent, beautiful. The seed of renewal and the next cycle coming is always present. Life fragile and life persistent are true together. My gratitude for earth’s inventive beauty grows even stronger when I hold it up against the possibility of collapse.