I am busy getting my garden ready for the spring. I will be planting vegetables, herbs and native pollinator plants. I am starting them from seed. I am nervous and excited. Elated, mostly. I am learning.
So much of my writing inspiration comes from being in and with my back yard. I have not been a good steward to it but I am changing my ways. You would not believe the number of different creatures I see in this small patch of land. Just now, typing on my phone, two Blue Jays are sitting on the fence across from me. Can you imagine this city without their calls? With just the hum of cars, electric leaf blowers, lawnmowers and police sirens? Who would call my attention to that place in my heart which is made of sweet-smelling, mushy organic matter?
Who, with their chirp, would remind me that life is always here and now?
I had such an awakening encounter the other day while laying down mulch, when this beastie jumped up from under my feet and gave me a startle.
In those first moments time stopped between us, and as I yelped and jumped up we both swirled around each other as dizzying, colorful forms in a broad cluster of soil, trees, roof-tiles and sky.
Its pale, big, scaly body in stark contrast with the dark brown of the earth, it just lay there glistening in the sun like a precious jewel. I stood there looking at it, wondering, both our chests heaving, our gazes locked.
Then my thoughts kicked in, and I noted in awe how massive it is, that it is a skink, that I hope I haven’t injured it, that I don’t know what kind of skink it is, and how strong its jaws must be based on the size of its head.
After admiring it for a while I went back to the task at hand, working around it, glancing back often to check on it, feeling sorry for disturbing the peace, promising I was only causing disruption to enable better soil health, more delicious worms, more insect activity.
“Please forgive me and stay for when the cucumber beetles and stinkbugs descend on my vegetables.”
For the rest of the day I googled and learned about this beauty, feeling awe-ful about how much I don’t know, feeling thankful that local people and creatures alike tolerate my presence and ignorance in their midst, feeling honoured for every revelation, every encounter with an individual so different from myself.
Why be here on Earth but for the opportunity to witness and See ‘others’ with the eyes of the divine, which are empty of judgement, empty of notions, empty of preference? Why be here on Earth but for the opportunity to Feel ‘others’ with the heart of the divine, which includes everything, which allows the discomfort of skin-enclosed separation but also the vulnerability of reaching out to touch that which is common to all of us, namely pain and suffering, and the reality of death?
How fortunate am I, that I need not search for spiritual teachers, making pilgrimages and kissing human hands. I pay my tithes with a little sweat and a little attention to this holy land right here, wherever I stand. And the greatest masters I have ever known descend with the tilt of a wing or ascend from beneath some rotting leaves, wriggling among a clump of sprawling mycorrhizae.