A powerful circular experience of a breath meditation sitting on the ground on a glorious day blessed by a gentle breeze; the moments when the boundaries between my being and that of water, rock or tree blur into an acknowledgement of oneness, of connection – these are true moments of grace. They are only possible when the boundaries of ‘I’, of ego-self loosen, moments of ‘awareness’, of being truly awake; the inner experience carries such certainty, sounds a resounding ‘yes’. It all seems so obvious at that moment of awareness!
Such experiences shape the core of my being, make it imperative to live from a place rooted in mindfulness, integrity, wonder and joy.
‘all breath in this world
is roped together’
~ Hannah Stephenson
As we moved to this beautiful place, where nature gently loosens those boundaries on a regular basis, I was startled by the unexpected strength of a sense not of ownership but of stewardship of the land; of a deep love and great desire to do right by it and by all the beings with which we share it. This sense of responsibility underpins my life here.
Sharon Blackie writes of ‘the enchanted life’, which for me speaks to that sense of connection and responsibility:
“Enchantment. By my definition, a vivid sense of belongingness to a rich and many-layered world, a profound and whole-hearted participation in the adventure of life. Enchantment is a natural, spontaneous human tendency – one we possess as children, but lose, through social and cultural pressures, as we grow older. I believe that it is an attitude of mind which can be cultivated: the enchanted life is possible for anyone. The enchanted life is intuitive, embraces wonder, and fully engages the mythic imagination – but it is also deeply embodied, ecological, grounded in place and community. To live an enchanted life is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary.”
When we wake
All breath in this world is roped together!
Each breath has the capacity to shift
a stray lock of hair
and a universe.
Everything is bound
in an eternal dance
of particulate and elemental commonality.
It is always so,
but our experience of living
is not always so.
This is something we know
only in the moments
when we wake to enchantment.
So what is the challenge of stewardship?
In terms of both outer and inner worlds, I guess for me stewardship is about doing that which supports and maintains healthy states of growth and being, all the while maintaining an awareness of succession.
When we first arrived here, we had a visit from Watersheds Canada looking to participate in their Natural Edge program); in the event, our shoreline was so healthy there was nothing they felt we needed to do! But it helped our understanding; we are careful to cut back rather than in any way ‘clear’ the steep bank down to the water, we do not use phosphates that may run off into the lake.
In our wetland, we try to encourage the cattails but not the phragmites; monitor where turtles are laying their eggs, again avoiding chemicals that may damage this habitat.
We have bat and bird boxes and feed the birds all year, but especially at times of particular hardship.
We retain dead trees and brush-piles for their importance as habitats.
We welcome the beings who share this beautiful place respectfully but without the desire in any way to tame them. With time, there is a growing sense of relationship, understanding, even intimacy (into me you see).
Most of our planting is of native species, particularly those supportive to pollinators, humming-birds and butterflies – we seek to supplement what is naturally here rather than unduly to shape or tame it.
We monitor our trees, making decisions as to which saplings to encourage and which to potentially protect from our resident beaver (whose presence in our bay most evenings currently delights us).
As to the inner world, hitting my head blessed me with the impetus to develop a much more regular meditation practice than previously (part of my prescription from a neurologist!), which I try to maintain. There is also, I think, a certain discipline required in truly noting and engaging with the world around you in a mindful and joyous way that is a part of nurturing the inner world.
I am trying to learn to say ‘no’ to being the person whose job it is to make things right for others all the time. I am also trying to learn that I don’t always have to say ‘yes’ to heading into every challenge full-tilt.
Sometimes it is enough simply to observe
and let the universe unfold as it should.
All is not reaching, striving,
choosing to force growth
and embrace pain
to fertilize the soul.
It is not always so!
opens a yellow face
to the sun
but closes itself
to the dark shadows of evening
and the grey of a rainy day.
As the sun shines,
it transforms effortlessly
its leaves will form
a carpet of green hearts.
I do not have to keep myself
resolutely open to dark
I too can close up
when shadows fall,
ready for the sun’s return.