They came,
concerned and discouraged
about future life on the planet.
After a day together
deeply engaged
in the work
of the Deep Ecology Deep Hope retreat,
they left,
committed and encouraged.

DSCN8696The Cosmic Walk

DSCN8699The Truth Mandala

One of the exercises
we participate in
during the Deep Ecology
Deep Hope retreat
is the Mirror Walk.
One person closes her eyes
and the other person guides
her to something in nature,
invites the closed-eyes-one
to touch it,
then to get up close to it
and open her eyes
as the guide says,
“Open your eyes
and look in the mirror.”
We did this exercise Saturday
and then talked about our experiences.
When I asked,
what did you feel when your guide
asked you to look in the mirror,
everyone laughed: “Oh,
we forgot that part!”
This happens with every group
every time we do this exercise,
even though, by now, I’ve learned
to stress this part. During the instructions
I say, repeatedly, “When you ask them
to open their eyes, say, ‘Open your eyes
and look in the mirror.”
Rarely does this happen, which helps me realize
how deeply it is embedded in us—
Western, non-indigenous people—
that we are separate from the natural world.
How much hope I have,
that in the evolution of humanity
when we come to understand deeply—
like our indigenous sisters and brothers—
that we are part of the natural world,
we will make changes in our lives
so that all life
can flourish.

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DSCN3363
DSCN3366

On retreat at a conference center
connected to the cathedral grounds
in Oklahoma City,
a group of spiritual directors
paired up
to make the Mirror Walk.
There were tree blossoms,
flower blossoms.
Tiny seeds had sprouted
two opposing green leaves
poking up through the tiny holes of a grate
around the base of a budding tree.
Robins were making nests.
A pigeon couple
was watching over their new babes
tucked high inside a gazebo.

DSCN3361

One person closes their eyes
and another guides them,
points their face in the direction
of something in nature,
as if focusing a camera,
then says to their partner:
“Open your eyes
and look in the mirror.”
The exercise,
created by Joanna Macy,
is designed to help humans
begin to get in touch with
the fact that humans
are part of the natural world.

DSCN3369

DSCN3370

The moment when Nancy, focusing Steve’s face toward the pigeons and their nest full of babes,
tells him “Open your eyes and look in the mirror!”

Back home,
though we are only 80 miles north,
our springing is not as far along.
Two days ago
I saw the first Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
of the season.
This morning, for the first time this year,
Mockingbird was singing
his entire repertoire.
The Hackberry
leaves are unfurling.

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As I look in these “mirrors,”
I wonder if I’ll ever
unfurl enough
from my human-centeredness
to grasp
completely
the breadth and depth,
the exquisite beauty,
the incomprehensible myriad of details
in the life of which
I am a part;
the importance
of my job
as mere observer.