The forest was my sanctuary when I was very young. Summer afternoons were spent building homes for animals and sharing sandwich crumbs with birds. I would share my dreams with the trees, as they seemed to have a magical way of making them come true.
I felt safe enough to laugh, dance and sing freely. Nature felt like my home, a peaceful sanctuary that distanced me from the overwhelming world.
Then growing up happened and so did getting busy. Lifetook over, distancing me from my enchanted forests.
Along with the overwhelm of daily life, the reality of forest fires, eroding soil and dwindling water supplies had left me searching for another perspective to ease my worry about the state of the planet. Our Earth.
We have decided that fire and natural disasters are wrong, and that our planet is ill. Do we know this is true?
I was curious when a friend introduced me to the a Shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman, then found myself spellbound by what she had to say.
She spoke about the need to have confidence that the Mother Earth has a way of correcting and re-balancing herself, even though we may not like how that looks.
Humans have populated the Earth, polluted her and have become unconscious of her rhythms; we live where her fires burn, her tornadoes strike, and where she is known to quake.
It was time to consider the water, land and creatures as our teachers, because apparently, we have much to learn.
Author and Shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman had more to say:
“It is who we become that changes the world and our environment, not what we do. Harmony within will create harmony without. So the true work is learning how to change our thoughts, attitudes and belief systems. We actually have to work with “ the alchemy of the soul” to really be able to change our inner environment, as our inner state of being will be reflected in the outer world.”
Could it be that the Earth is stronger, wiser and more resilient than I give her credit for?
Clearly, it was time for me to change my thinking on how I could contribute to helping the state of the planet, and this was about much, much more than picking up my trash.
The more I studied, the easier I could breathe; it all finally made sense.
This was about slowing down enough to create deeper connections to people, the ocean, the forest and myself.
It was about pausing long enough to smile at someone.
Finding peace while stuck in traffic. Becoming aware of my tendency to get down on myself and others.
It was a reason for me to explore my fear and sadness and stop pushing emotions aside. The people around me, as well as the planet, could benefit from my smile rather than my stress.
Then I remembered when I was young, when nature had been my closest companion. On some level this was something I previously understood.
So I began.
I started talking to the trees again, and have now found many other ways to share my love for the Earth.
I apologize to her. I tell her how sorry I am when I see her land being torn apart by mines, and her mountains stripped of forests. I know she hears me.
I apologized to myself for not shedding tears or speaking my truth when I needed to. I know my soul hears me.
I leave offerings for the Earth and send deep gratitude and reverence for the water and the sun. As I sprinkle them, I also send thanks to the people who put out the fires and clean pollution from the ocean. I know they will feel it.
I pray. My prayer is the joy I feel when I imagine the smell of rain dampening the parched land on a summer evening. I dance it, breathe it and send my joy out to the ocean and to the wind.
I allow myself to cry, to laugh and to express myself freely, so the Earth and I can help each other heal.
Finally, I teach my children to understand the rhythms of nature. To rest in winter, live outside in the summer and plant the seeds of their imagination in the spring.
I remind them to always whisper their dreams to the trees, as they have a way of making them come true.
Published in Elephant Journal.