It’s early morning on a Tuesday in the middle of half term holidays. The children have already bickered about a cardboard box and decaf tea. The baby has turned off the TV that they are watching, scribbled allover my to-do list and wants more of what everyone but he is eating for breakfast. It’s chaotic in here. Even the dog is agitated. Tempers are high, we’re all being too loud. It’s barely 8am and I’ve already had enough.
Outside the sun hasn’t even risen yet. Its light has been growing for the last hour but still there is no point of light in the clear, scattered and shredded sky. The wind is high, it has been all night. Beautiful Cherry, who has been growing quietly all these years in my garden while I’ve learned to love her, clings desperately to her last reddened leaves, refusing to let the wind snatch them from her. She is a tough thing, that Cherry tree. She is one of the first to come into leaf in the Spring and one of the last to lose them in the late autumn. Her delicate little fruits are so bright red. When they turn into that deep maroon colour, if the blackbirds leave me any, I like to take a couple. They’re sharp and sour, with a hard juiciness that wilder varieties still retain. Not like the shop-bought ones, but the ancient, British ones, almost unpalatable to our modern senses. We don’t like our food to be uncomfortable. Sweet and juicy is pretty much what we demand from our fruits now. But my garden reminds me of how sour our food once was, before our tastebuds modernised.
Blackbird is watching me through the window.
When the wind is high the whole world is in movement. Our little bodies are buffeted, even from within four sturdy walls. For my part, it doesn’t take much external, wild, planetary force to dislodge me. My being becomes unravelled and rudderless at the slightest thing. Over the years I have developed practices which keep me connected to myself, this life, so that my being doesn’t get lost amongst the ragged clouds. When the wind blows my mind flies into the four directions. When the sun shines or hides my heart bursts into tiny pieces. When the new fruits burgeon in Spring time my knotted intestines release with a song of creative joy. When the bitterest snow falls I can barely breathe. For I am a child of the Earth, just as you are. My water is this Earth’s, my cells the soil. What happens to Her, happens to me, to all of us.
The practices I mentioned, these are things that have been freely given to me. Kind souls’ wisdom, that need to be shared, for us to return to ourselves. I meditate, bang a deerskin drum, sing wordless syllables, walk the Earth, move my body through Yoga, play music, listen to others who can bend sound to connect us to that which is greater and more eternal than we. And I find a community and gather those dear souls around me. For if I am a child of the Earth, then we all are and when we come together we can hold each other in a safe container, where we can open to our connectedness.
We are not here for all that long. Probably less than a century, possibly our time on the apparent plain is nearly at an end and we don’t even know it. Perhaps we do. What matters is what we are. Not what we’ve done, as achievements are half chance. But what we are. The verb ‘to be’, the latin root is ‘essence’, ‘essential’. What is my essence? It is to live humbly, simply. To love.
I love this world so much that I have faced my untold grief and I have somehow managed to retain shreds of sanity. Not all of it was blown into the scattered clouds, when the ferocity of the wind of knowledge blew through my mind. I still have that little red thread, as the late George Michael described it. What is that? He said it was like a line that he had to follow that came out from his body and led on. If he followed it then he would become successful, become the man and artist we knew him to be. My own little red thread was there all along, when I wanted to be a nun when I was a very small girl, it was there when I lived in a spiritual community in Scotland, it pulled me through my chaotic twenties and into my thirties. It pulled me unconsciously through until I began to investigate my own subconscious through meditation and ritual. Then I came to see it for what it was. It wasn’t a thread that was leading me to a career, or lots of money, like George. No, it was a thread that connected me all my life to Truth. Not everyone else’s I’d surmise. This isn’t a sermon. Yet mine. Though one that I have a suspicion that I share with a great many of you.
This Truth is so obvious that I have to keep excavating my own bullshit to remind myself of it: the pulse of life that is within me is within every single thing. You too, dear Reader. It’s in you too, and you looking out, it’s in me too. And so the ripples of realisation keep expanding.
I’ll just allow that to sink in a moment.
When I remember the simplicity of this, that my beautiful Cherry tree lives because it should and does, just as much as me or you, or my chaotic kids, then everything falls away. The world, the Universe, becomes a network of complex living pulses of essence. This is the truth that keeps me utterly in love with being alive. What a gift we have been given. To have these senses, this body, this world in which to live and learn. Do we even see what a great, unbound gift we’ve been given? In all honesty, no, I doubt it. I doubt that we give thanks. To what? To what should I give thanks? To Life itself? A God? To my Ancestors for going through joy, fear, utter horror and many, many moments of sheer boredom just so there may be the possibility that I could live and that my children would be born? We live for the descendants we will never know. For we are the living Ancestors.
To give thanks is in itself to tread every footfall with reverence. Every breath is filled with Divine purpose of life itself. I for one will give thanks to the Earth. I come from a line of consciousness that has never been broken, from the very first minerals turned carbon into living, organic matter, billions of years ago. So in very real terms I AM the Earth. As are you. Our Deep Time Mother IS Earth, and that is another simple Truth.
Our actions speak volumes about these Truths. Should I pollute the air, that is my Mother? Should I cut down that tree that is as alive as I? Am I treading lightly? Is my footfall reverent? Can I leave here one day, having left only love, when I die?
The wind is still raging. I must walk the dog, he’s as agitated as I am. I think everyone needs a bit of buffeting, now that the sun has risen. Slowly Cherry tree is losing her leaves to that tenacious wind and I should go out and greet the morning.