Love simply “is.” It is bigger than all of us because Love is Divine. Our human tendency, however, seems to be to rate it or quantify it or make it fit into one of our myriad boxes that make living both easier and more difficult for us.
How often have we been told “you don’t love me enough” or “you don’t love me as much as I do you” or variations on that theme? This makes no sense to me because Love is not human — Love is Divine. Love surrounds and permeates all life and shows up in infinite variety.
That’s not to say that we don’t have varying levels of attachment to people, animals, places, things, and even belief systems, but that isn’t Love — that’s a human construct aligned with personality.
Perhaps if we were less concerned with making Love a competition, we would experience its expansiveness, its all-inclusiveness?
This — Encounters: Intimate Conversations on Belonging, with Toko-Pa — is a lovely FREE gift of audio recordings; the first two have been released and they are absolutely wonderful — soothing, evocative, and inspiring.
Toko-Pa is offering this series of conversations in the context of pre-release of her book Belonging (that I’m looking forward to reading, since I’ve been nourished by her blog for a long while).
With this spiritual and psychological inner work of “belonging” in mind, I’m also reminded of the phenomenal audio collection Longing and Belonging presented by the incomparable John O’Donohue, who was a curator of Celtic Christianity through poetry and philosophy. I’ve listened to this 33-hour collection at least four times, and turn to it often as uplifting material.
Living in between…
Between shallow river below and broad field above, this relatively narrow area of tilted woods is the space between sweep of water and wind.
Between … in the solitary space of trees and rocky soil and birds scattered with tucked wings among leaves and limbs.
Between worlds of wet and dry, opened wide, here in shelter am I; quiet surrounds with only occasional interruption of those passing by.
Inside the space between is my world. Between. Liminal. Threshold. Bridge. Allure in every landscape, whether river or field or woods.
I am the Between, the not-quite-there presence that fits into threshold. Yet “fit” isn’t accurate because liminal space is a transitional expression of stillness and movement, the dynamic dance of deep change and eternal mystical equilibrium without stasis of form.
Between is where everything touches, for here is no time and everything that has happened, will happen, or is present, is making up its mind. Between the balance, inside that space, is where I am … witnessing.
“We feel the touch of life, of a nonhuman awareness, upon us. But more … we experience something unique to most humans in the West. An intelligence, just as subtle and sophisticated as our own, but very nonhuman, reaches out and communicates with us. …
For some people, this touch of communication and intelligence from the wildness of the nonhuman world marks a phase change in their life. They abandon the human world as the fundamental point of reference and begin to cultivate the experience of aisthesis.”
What Stephen Harrod Buhner describes above (in Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm) mirrors my own “phase changes” along sacred pivotal points on the Gaia Path.
For more than twenty years, I’ve enjoyed the gifts of a simple, natural spirituality. My conscious awareness of Spirit within every thing I see and experience waxes and wanes through the times of my life, sometimes emerging in complex ritual, yet remains present and innate.
Our entire Earth is here in the simple cup of chai I make in the morning, and I give thanks to the Infinite, the Great Spirit in all Her mystery, while also giving thanks to each individual Spirit that has become manifest in form. The water from our well, unique to this place and the aquifer below, provides the carrier for each spice; I give thanks to the Spirit of Water. As I grind the fennel in mortar and pestle, I give thanks to Spirit of Fennel; each additional spice is given the same gratitude. I give thanks for the long journey they’ve endured to reach me, and for the people who have grown and harvested and been part of the process that is their physical journey. I give thanks for my senses that allow me to delight in this tea.
I have a deep appreciation for each food that nourishes my body, mind and soul, ingesting their subtle energy qualities as well as their obvious physical ones.
And, as I gaze out at the woods, the grasses and plants and trees, giving thanks for them and feeling myself soften in their surrounding embrace, I sense them watching me, too.
Broken roots. Healing ground. Sacred space. ONE.
I wake with a peace permeating me, solace found in healing ground as if, all of a sudden…I’m fine. As if my body isn’t to be worried about, its healing is coming along well without my constant attention. I don’t need to fear because … I’ve landed, I’m home, I’m grounding in the blessed rocks and soil and humus of Life that surrounds me. The darkness is a gift to learn from; it is part of this universal experience we participate in. I find my breath coming easier, softer. My eyes, discerning, witnessing, don’t shy away. Neither do my ears from listening. I’m grateful for my senses as we embrace the world and witness our own evolution. My broken body heals. So does the universe. Brigid guides the way, Her light peeks into my cracks and illuminates the chips I harvest with compassion as part of me.
Ground, then move…bending. Among the trees, we are rooted, deeply embedded in Life as witness and participant in Love, no matter where on the planet we are, our earth that spins in and out of darkness and light.
I’m not worried about my recovery, or the recovery of the world; we will continue to grow, ground, move, bend, heal.
Vulnerability. Sanctuary doesn’t mean that nothing difficult will happen or that one is always in control; it is a place where we feel more able to cope when challenges do occur. A haven isn’t isolation but a place of deep connection. We are all vulnerable to Life’s Mystery.
We are the Shakti within our own footsteps.
I am the toes that bend and wriggle and stretch creating a forward/backward balance upon which the solid bone can find dance and play. I am the ball under my big toe that rocks me gently into a step here and skip there, receiving the placement in my world right now yet knows the ability of shifting into a new beginning from soft sand to cool grass that tickles to hard rocks both round and jagged and my feet partake of the blessed planes of standing still and moving. I am the arch, reaching up, reminding my foot that even when I am touching the ground, I am also reaching high to the sky to feel the caress of air and the expanse of space. I am the outer edge that joins front to back in a line of continuity unbreakable when honored and accepted as the connection between disparate sensations and purpose. And I am the heel of trunk that grounds and sends my roots deep into the Soul of Gaia’s womb until our blood flows as One.
With each step, I make an impression and someone else will follow though our gazes may never meet and our fingers never graze the skin of our individuality yet here where my foot was, upon the past impression of another being, coms eventually another and another to infinity in Gaia’s cellular memory. The impression is resonant with what I was thinking and feeling, and I want to leave an impression of love and abiding joy that is deeper than the pen or words, deeper than the weight of this body-temple, deeper than the distractions that cause me or someone else a momentary pain from lack of conscious connection, deeper than the practices that carry my mind to the Infinite within and without, above and below.
It’s the vibrational footprint of love that I want to leave behind whenever I go. Loving Gaia and all beings though my personality may have been less than loving at times. Loving existence though I was fine with going to the next one. Loving each of the precious beings who chose to be with me in my home and out on the walks of inhale and exhale where impressions of others were digested and assimilated. Loving and transforming those impressions through compassion into gorgeous notes left behind upon the sky story of thought and earth story of soul and spaces of spirit that sing to the flowing rivers and lava that give generously to the sustainability of ocean and land.
Could there be a better purpose than to leave an impression of love in the footprint of one’s life?
Gaia sings to me and I see my soul grow wings of animal angels, wings of bats and birds and wise old owls. How are the wings to be made? Like those of the butterfly or the bee? Shall my wings have feathers or leathery skin to see the veins or skeins of colored threads that become the tapestry of a butterfly’s wings or the film of translucent gauze that is the bee’s lace wings, diaphanous and miraculous, almost existing in another world rather than this one. How will my wings move? Shall I feel the vibrational humming of the nectar bird so tiny as a thimble or the majestic slow waves of the hawk so high she is a speck against the smooth blue gown of Gaia’s breath or the ever-so gentle lifting of the flitting butterfly?
How shall I experience the wings I’ve grown and woven among the pattern of my own new life that echoes who I was as a small child among the weeds in a field far from the house and walking in the woods down a path to pick fresh black raspberries so delectable and sweet I can cry with the juices upon my tongue as I swing upon the vines that hang near the dried up creek bed and I am in heaven, walking the land, playing in the family of Gaia.
So many years as the caterpillar, alternating to cocoon but never making it to butterfly — a stage that eluded me for most of my life. Until I could surround myself in solitude and emerge as pink and green, all wings and down, inward seeing, for my wings are those of moth, not butterfly, and I am become the whisper in the night that used to haunt me, calling me to fly away. The voice is mine and has been here all along.
Goddess and Priestess, hermit and monastic soul upon the ledge within the cave where soul is full of wonder gazing into the heart of creatures great and small as I sleep in my nest, curled and humble into rest.
I am the kiss at the end of desire for we are whole in soul and self and sea, waves of pulsing breath, the shining stars are angels soaring far away and they drop a feather into the sea that becomes me. We are not earthbound, we are earth held by grace and know the ease of soaring and shining into a moment of joy and then gone again. Stones shimmer and in the moonlight all becomes the silver and blue wink of energy forming and dissolving just as the tears of a weeping tree become the golden treasure of nature’s inspiration holding the precious residue of past wings. Into the earth, I release my wings and climb down, feeling Her voice echo in the tears of amber and once there, I rub my palms together and create the moonlit wings of a pink night-moth, the lunar essence of vision in the dark of seeing without eyes and knowing without the limitation of light, and the reflected soul is iridescent in the joyous abyss of Gaia’s womb.