Two nights ago as I was walking at dusk on a tree lined road nearby my home, an owl swooped across the road from one tree to another. I had a feeling of knowing inside, a knowing that he wanted me to notice him, and in that moment I gave him all my attention. He sat in the tree and I stood below, and we just were there with one another in that timeless way. I felt graced, blessed, honored to have this meeting together. Eventually he swooped back to the tree he had come from, and I couldn’t see where he had flown.
As I continued down the road, I felt an immense appreciation for the earth and the clear thread of magical moments like this I have experienced through the years. These moments appear to me as stepping stones that have slowly and carefully revealed a path of love. Some of my earliest memories are of playing in a creek behind our home in a Philadelphia suburb, arranging the rocks and making little changes in the flow of the stream – and the immense joy of swinging across the bank on a Weeping Willow. Over the years, each new place I lived touched me deeply.
I’ll never forget one wild and rambling house that sat all alone on a ridge, with windows everywhere, so cold and drafty. It was like a big tent, keeping me very close to the seasons, swaying in the storms, freezing in the winter. I knew each day of that 13 years was a gift, though, as I was so close to the trees and the animals. I could sit in a hot tub out back in the night, and they’d move around me as I sat, creeping ‘coons and skunks sashaying by. I began to believe the Earth was guiding me, even choosing the new homes for me, teaching me through my encounters with her trees and rocks, streams and rivers.
Sometime shortly after college I read these words of Carlos Castenada:
Only if one loves this earth with unbending passion can one release one’s sadness,” don Juan said. “A warrior is always joyful because his love is unalterable and his beloved, the earth, embraces him and bestows upon him inconceivable gifts. The sadness belongs to those who hate the very thing that gives shelter to their beings.” Don Juan again caressed the ground with tenderness. “This lovely being, which is alive to its last recesses and understands every feeling, soothed me, it cured me of my pains, and finally when I had fully understood my love for it, it taught me freedom.
With each passing year, these words become increasingly true for me, and her aliveness ever more tangible. She has held me and rocked me, steadied me when I have been blinded with tears, and taught me to trust. And she has taught me gratitude and appreciation for every moment I am here.