… I couldn’t point to any enormous instantaneous change that has happened to me, but certainly over the last ten years, this notion—that I don’t really know everything and that I’ve got a lot to learn, rather than a lot to teach, and that there is a conversation I don’t know how to have, that I’d like to learn how to have—has been a constant for me, and it’s changed me subtly.
There’s still a lot I’d like to do and a lot I’d like to learn, a lot I’d like to know. I think that’s increasingly such an important task: just to learn how to listen, to relearn what we’ve forgotten. I don’t think there is any easy sort of ABC curriculum for it. There’s a lot of work you can do.
~ Paul Kingsnorth, The Myth of Progress, Emergence Magazine Podcast
I am happy to report that the person who was exposed to Covid-19 has her test results and it’s negative for now (see my post yesterday about indirect exposure to the virus, if you don’t know what I’m talking about). It’s been eleven days since her exposure so I suppose it’s still possible that could change. It’s a relief, for now.
Last month I signed up for a four part course called “A Deep Dive Into Spiritual Ecology” that is being given by Emergence Magazine. It might have been a crazy thing to do, knowing that we were moving and unsure about how busy we would be here. Fortunately, I had a week to settle in enough that there should be no problem with participating in the online part of the course on Fridays and doing the assigned reading and practices in between. The quote I began this post with is from the podcast we were asked to listen to in preparation for the course which starts today. It is an interview with Paul Kingsnorth, conducted by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee (executive editor of Emergence Magazine), in which they discuss stories, myths, and listening. (You can find it here, if interested.)
I love how the word and concept of listening keeps reappearing, over and over and over again, in my life. I picked Listening as my 2019 word/theme for the year. Perhaps it is my lifetime word or theme. I’m not sure. But it has been a powerful and recurring theme over the past two years, and I have been doing a lot of listening.
Last night, as I stood outside looking over the fields and meadows straight ahead and the woods to left, I watched a multitude of fireflies flashing on and off in the trees and grasses, stars sparkling overhead as heat lightning zigzagged from cloud to cloud off in the distance, and I thought of Mary Oliver’s poem, Stars. More specifically, I thought of this piece of the poem:
Tonight, at the edge of the field,
I stood very still, and looked up,
and tried to be empty of words.
Later in the poem there is is this:
What can we do
but keep on breathing in and out,
modest and willing, and in our places?
Listen, listen, I am forever saying.
Listen to the river, to the hawk, to the hoof,
to the mockingbird, to the jack-in-the-pulpit —
Watching the lightning and the fireflies and stars, feeling the heat and humidity, I was also listening to someone (a deer, perhaps, or the folks that own the house we’re renting and live on the adjoining property) rustling around in the woods, branches snapping underfoot. I thought about bears. Black bears have been spotted in this county from time to time. I don’t think there are any in the nearby area but the sound reminded me of a bear making its way through the woods, not at all concerned if some other creature should hear them.
Well, I’m rambling now and could probably continue to ramble for a while. That usually means it’s time to go. Thank you so much for stopping by today. We are hoping for rain this afternoon. Sunset is scheduled for 8:58 PM. If it looks like there’s something to see, I’ll meet you out by the cornfield and we’ll watch together, with the proper physical distancing of course.
Please be safe, be well, and be kind. Kindness goes a long, long way under any circumstances, but maybe more so in today’s climate.
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,466) Milkweed in bloom. The owners of the house we’re staying in have beehives and their honeybees have been spending a lot of time with the milkweed. I’ve been looking for Monarch butterflies and/or caterpillars, but no luck so far. 1,467) An opportunity to listen and learn about deep and spiritual ecology. 1,468) Quiet mornings and boisterous afternoons. 1,469) Mint tea brewed with mint from the garden, mint I planted long ago. 1,470) Night stars and morning sunbeams, heat lightning, and the possibility of rain.