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.


Our community seems to be expanding.
After three years
focusing on the natural world
and our plant, insect and animal neighborhood,
it seems the human part of our community
is coming forth.
Not only are the number of retreat guests
and workshop participants growing,
but old friends
are making connection.
My dear friend Deb
(her blog is At Home on the Farm,
about farm life thirty or forty miles west of here)
came for the day one day last week.
She went with us down to Doe Creek
to gather the samples for our monthly creek monitoring
and then we talked
as only soul-friends can.
One of my son’s oldest friends,
a senior at Oklahoma State University,
came for the day
and helped Ann in the pecan grove
then spent some time in the kayak on the pond
before his semester begins.
He and Will met in kindergarten
and I have watched both of them
grow into the wonders they are.
Our most surprising recent visit
is from a high school classmate and friend of my own
who now lives in California.
We hadn’t seen each other in 25 years
when she and her husband called
and said they were in Oklahoma
and wanted to come stay the night.
It was a sacred connection
as it turned out:
a much-needed gift
at exactly the right moment.

Among the many gifts
during the time we all shared together
is the certain realization
that this is the time,
a new era,
of community.
Local community –
insects and animals
plants and waters and soils
sun and moon and stars and sky –
and far-flung human community made closer
by technology
and  by hearts and souls
that are most certainly connected.
Sitting alongside a pond,
in the shade,
with a cool breeze blowing,
watching hummingbirds feed
listening to cicadea buzzing
and bullfrog croaking
sharing our experiences
our fears and challenges
our dreams and learnings
gives one a glimpse of hope:
maybe we will
learn to live together
as community.

spider and blue wasp I

Right there on the back porch
by the back door
was a spider
that got my attention.
It was black and bulbous
and its legs could become hairy.
I wondered if it was a baby tarantula.
a beautiful wasp walked up to it.
It was reddish-orange
with a bright, shiny, blue set of wings.
It seemed very bold
walking up to this spider,
but then I wouldn’t know who had the strongest defense.
I’d seen the spider move – ever so slightly –
a couple of its legs.
After a bit,
the wasp latched onto the spider
and started hauling it away.
Now I began to wonder if I’d really seen
those legs move.
Maybe the spider was dead.
The wasp moved right along,
as if the spider weighed nothing.
spider and blue wasp II

spider and blue wasp III
It carried it up over the bottom of the screen door.
I was amazed,
and then alarmed:
that wasp backed into the corner of the screen door
and carried the spider into my house!
I opened the door,
grabbed a fly swatter
and gently, with the end of it,
flung the spider back outside.

The wasp couldn’t figure out what happened
and looked quite a while for that spider,
which lay perfectly still on the porch.
I carefully maneuvered the fly swatter under it
and laid it beneath a tomato plant,
in the shade,
I’m certain,
I saw the legs move again,
though it stayed exactly where I laid it.
An hour later,
it was still there.
This morning,

All kinds of questions:
was the spider alive?
If so, what was its plan?
Was it pretending to be dead?
Was it at the mercy of the wasp or
was it going to eat the wasp at an opportune moment?
What happened to it?
Is it still alive?
Was it a baby
or full-grown?
And what right did I have to interfere?
I know the answer to that one:
none really –
and I wouldn’t have,
had they not gone into the house.
Familiar issue:
how does the natural world get along
with humans in it?

hummingbird at feeder

No Conversation for Hummingbird and Wasp at Table

Here at my country home, I’ve come to know the differences in quiet.

Sometimes, it seems noisy here:
the mockingbird carrying on

the incessant cicadeas

a squawling momma cat protecting her kittens from an eager tomcat

a coyote family howling at dusk
and the dogs chiming in

a flock of chattering blackbirds passing through
or a flock of geese flying over

the wind on a rampage
or whistling through the window screens.

Then there is a quieter time:
the mere chirp of a barn swallow
the hum of a wasp
the whir of hummingbird wings
the breeze in the pine tree…

Then there is silence:
when cats sit without a sound and watch the kittens
chase a leaf
and pounce lightly, silently, on the little leaf

when flowers grow and bloom without a peep

when a spider spins a web

when the milky way appears in the dark blue
or the full moon shimmers on the pond.

Enter a pasture in the morning and you hear a few birds
but you can actually feel the deep quiet penetrating the soul.

And I realize:
the natural world is pretty quiet –
except for the racket we human beings create.

Why is that?