“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” ― Mark Twain
Twain’s wisdom resonates because it strikes such a chord of truth within us. What teenager doesn’t take his parents for granted only to find, as he ages, how wise they are?
Human development requires that we go through these developmental stages, last week discussed from the point of view of Bob Kegan, a Harvard professor. If we learn and grow past the self-sovereign developmental stage, we can see past our own point of view to perceive the perspectives, needs, and cares of others, including our parents.
Most adults are able, at some point, to resonate with their parents’ wisdom, especially as we accumulate life experience. When we become parents ourselves, we see with fresh eyes the challenges and difficult choices that parents make, and we view the role with increasing compassion.
Eventually, I’d imagine, that we find the same growing compassion for the elders in our communities, and those with chronic medical conditions and physical disabilities, as we ourselves start to experience such challenges.
I wonder though, at what developmental stage do we start to find our compassion for and resonance with Mother Earth?
Both my biological parents and Earth have been there for me my whole life, and Earth persists though my human parents are deceased.
Both my biological parents and Earth provided for me, though my biological parents stopped supporting my material needs after age 22. I still get everything I need from Earth, and always will.
Both my biological parents and Earth provided my entertainment. Time with my parents transitioned more toward companionship in later years through the intermittent visit and regular calls. Earth is my constant companion and entertainer and inspiration, 24/7, even now, no matter where I am.
Yet Earth sometimes still feels like an abstraction that I am immersed in. I travel to and from different work, social, and commercial venues and I may not even stop to notice Earth or greet her. I may spend all days indoors working or resting, not once going outside to say hello and see how she’s doing.
If my adult child did that to me, we’d be having a conversation about common courtesy and decency to those you live with and depend upon.
It’s a travesty and I’m guilty of it too.
Since I’ve started this blog just over a year ago, I’ve been making an effort to be more intentionally present, appreciative, grateful, and caring for our shared Mother.
As someone who is too-often in my head, I have to make special efforts to set aside quality time for Earth, just as I would any other loved one. Quality time means giving Earth my undivided attention, and listening.
Of course, the flora, fauna, and elementals (air, water, fire) communicate with us constantly through our five senses: hearing, touch, smell, taste, and sight.
But there are other types of listening. People who are highly empathic can feel the emotions of others, some even sensing the emotions of plants and animals, even though they do not have what many might consider intelligence or sentience. Most of us with pets would agree that our pets have intelligence and emotions…. Why wouldn’t less “sophisticated” life forms? After all, many people talk to their plants as a way of building a connection and providing care. Is Earth herself (Gaia) less sophisticated than my house fern or my schnoodle dog?
I sure don’t know with any certainty but I feel the answer is pretty clear that Earth is much more complex and sophisticated than even us humans, and her intelligence far surpasses ours even if we cannot understand her language.
I’m not even sure that statement is correct. I think we understand her language. I just think we rarely listen to her with complete and undivided attention, using all of our senses and emotions.
My daily practice of being present with Earth, whether I’m in- or outdoors, has me listening more carefully to Earth. I don’t claim to be able to be an Earth translator by any means, but I can sense her, just as I would a loved one who is not engaging in conversation with me. Communication happens at all levels, if we are open to it.
Earth, in my view, is loving and brilliant beyond comparison. She adores all her children, even those that inflict harm and aggression on her.
She’s also tired and not feeling well. She’s saddened by our treatment of her, and exhausted from the changes she’s going through, some of them inflicted upon her by humanity. She wants us to start acting like responsible members of the Earth family, care for our human and non-human siblings, and care for her as well.
As long as we pretend that she doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter, then we can continue to inflict harm and damage on her. When we awaken to her beautiful spirit, notice her abundance and generosity to us despite our treatment of her, and appreciate her for the genius that she is, we might be less willing to continue to perpetuate harm on her for the purposes of generating wealth for a few.
We need to fall in love with Earth again, for her sake as well as our own. She wants to feel our love for her again, and just as importantly, she needs to experience our care. No mother should be without the aid of her children in her time of need.
Whether you feel Earth needs our help or not, I sense that Earth wants our help, just like we’d want to know our friends and family have our backs when the going gets tough.
And the going is very tough now, for her and for us.
We need to have her back now, family. Saying thank you is not enough. Let’s send her our love every day, and do whatever small (and large) things we can to ease her burden. She shouldn’t have to do this by herself, and we don’t have to be heroes or sheroes to make a difference.
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