Whilst I was an artist in residence at the Sitka Centre For Art & Ecology in Oregon I made myself a den and spent 3 days and 2 nights fasting above the mouth of the estuary. The rain was Oregon’ly consistent and the nights were cold, wet and hungry, but in amongst this, there were innumerable beautiful moments. The mornings began with the calls of bald eagles nesting in the tree above, noon was interlaced with chipmunks winding through the branches above my face, and the night was accompanied by deer mice tip toe’ing over me, as the moon and the sounds of the estuary gently seeped through my nest of pines.
On the third morning after a slightly delirious and cold night sleep thinking the estuary had risen ten meters and was about to wash me away, I crawled out of my den to be greeted by the first clear day. The warmth and beauty that surrounded me couldn’t have been further from my internal emotional landscape. I barely had the energy to move and smiles were doing their best to avoid my mouth. But as I sat looking down , I saw two otters coming out of their den just at that moment. The feeling that both I and the otters had come out of our dens to greet the day at the same moment instantly reunited me with my smile. Seeing the otters come out of their den and play on the rocks together before going out into the estuary completely warmed my soul. The excitement the otters showed as they started their day radiated an infectious joy and love of life that moved me to tears.
Their joy reminded me of a section in a poem by Rumi
‘The stars come up spinning
bewildered in love.
They’d grow tired
with that revolving
if they weren’t
“How long do we have to do this!”
I think this poem, the ‘bewildered’ love in which stars and otters live their lives holds a very important message for us in todays age.
we are at a very scary and confusing point in time in which we are realising the consumerist and industrialist mission which has led us to this point is not going to lead us or the majority of earth’s life to a habitable future.
Nature is telling us to change our course, and as we move towards transition, this moment feels like an approach to living that is defined by reductions.
reducing what foods we eat
reducing our plastic waste
and while each of these are incredibly important, the emphasises purely on reduction, I think is missing the point.
If we embark on this mission of reduction purely out of a solemn duty to become more sustainable we are likely to grow tired like the stars that are not bewildered in love,
how long have we got to do this?
Deeper than these actions of reduction is a process;
in which we must again, make the time to fall in love, with all of the things we have taken for granted.
To fall in love with the air we breathe, the water we drink, the other species which for so long we have neglected. With each other and ourselves.
It is through this love that we will have the energy to make the nessceary sacrifices and reductions in our lives. Sacrifices that do not feel like so, because they are for the ones we love.
luckily for us nature makes it very easy to fall in love
But we must take the time to reintroduce ourselves to nature, to the life that runs through every element, and greets us in our hearts as beauty
for beauty is nature’s poetry, that invites us to fall in love
it is not a commodity, to be bought, or sold
but life’s deepest gift
like gravity, beauty is a force of nature, that roots us in the orbit of our lives
it is a manifestation of life’s positivity
the light that guides us home
towards our family
to our deepest selves
take the time to fall in love with the evening light in your nearest tree
take the time to fall in love with the wind on your nearest stream
take the time to fall in love with the veins in your wrist
take the time to fall in love with the moments you’ve til now missed
take the time to learn from birds, to greet the dawn with song
take the time to hear the poem, from which we all come from
take the time to fall in love with the light that rests in moss
make a moment to give a voice to the love we almost lost
Our reunion with the extended family of life is a wealth much richer than the reductions to consumerism we must make to find our balance in life.
It is a love that will bring a deep and shattering grief; for we must again love and feel for the family that we have caused so much harm and pain, and a beauty and forgiveness that only family can bring.
Through this grief we will again feel what it is like to have our hearts truly connected to nature. And through the beauty of this connection we will find a community that roots us in a life, bewildered in love.