Inner Stirrings

I have just returned from a visit to where I was born and raised. I brought Aurora, our seven month-old daughter, to meet friends and family. Over my lifetime I have watched the land transform from small family farms and forests into a speeding suburban center. Every time I return, more trees are cut and buildings take their place. Being that our family land was also devastated when I was a small child, I make it a point to visit with land that held, nurtured, and taught me at different points in my life.

Upon my visit, one of my dear friends and I visited one of these places: a body of water with a simple walking path around it. I grew to know this place when I was coming into deeper relationship with plants and understanding their medicine. Many plants live there: Sumac, Prickly Ash, Burdock, Mullein, Willow, White Pine, and Garlic Mustard to name a few. Many animals take refuge here as well.

On this day we were met by white swans, geese, coyote dung, and on our way out of the reserve, walking the road along the lake to where my mom lives, we were met by two Muskrats. They were playing with each other, jumping in and out of the water, not more than 10 feet away from us. At one point it looked as though they were running in our direction to greet us.

At that moment a woman came running by and shouted out to us. This scared the muskrats into hiding. They didn’t emerge again. I offered them corn, and felt at that moment a deep sense of gratitude for my quiet nature.

Returning to Plantasia, our home in the valley, I surrendered to the utter sense of grief in remembering how most humans are living at this time. I recognized a dark void in my being, a time in my adolescence when I felt empty, unseen, and unheard. A similar emotion I felt for the land, as it continues to be eaten by buildings, and carelessly tossed this way and that way in the name of progress.

I had left my bubble of our valley where many have a sense of relationship with the plants, birds, trees, creeks, mushrooms, and soil, where I listen to these other-than human beings as my guides and teachers.

I could still feel the quiet voices of those other-than human beings who are pushed aside where I was raised, treated as though they are a threat to humankind. I will firmly say that they are a threat to the path many have chosen, for I have witnessed that if one sits with them long enough, one can no longer live in a loud economy-driven life, but rather one that remembers what it is we are doing here to begin with.

As I sit here to write, a squirrel has perched herself in the Hemlock tree outside the window, and gazes through the glass directly at me. She seems to stop all sense of work, play, or pursuit to analyze, to witness, to teach, to be in relationship. This squirrel is a mirror image to what is being called out by nature at this time: to stop, to sit, to feel, to be present.

There is a stirring within us all right now. The more it stirs, the louder the machines become, the busier life becomes, the more addictive that device or drink becomes. It is a sign that something from deep within us is calling for our attention. We are being summoned to stop and listen just as this squirrel has before me. If a squirrel, one of boundless energy, can show us how to do so, then surely, we can summon the courage to stop, be present, and meet with those inner stirrings that are collectively calling us. As we approach this space, a great creative force may beckon us, asking us to truly step into how we are to serve humanity, Earth, and all of her living relations.

As I looked up stories about the Muskrats, I was reminded of the Anishnabe re-creation story. As I am not one who holds this lineage of stories, it is not my story to tell, but I honor these teachings of the Muskrat. I feel their gentle medicine asking us to go deep within to carry up the soil of what is stirring, nourishing us to be reborn onto the path that is relational, life-honoring, creative, and beautiful.

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