Monday, 12 November 2018

The Power of Beauty

He and I have been courting one-another for about three years. I saw him first as a young fawn, nosing around in the sparse grass under hazel and oak, ears twitching at flies. I saw him again as the small herd made it's way up and down the hill; more grass at the top, more shelter at the bottom. He was more visible still as the leaves started to fall and I caught a glimpses of him and his fellow bucks (a male fallow deer is a buck, not a stag) tangling antlers in play, scratching the soft down off them on the trunks of the patient trees, and then this year he clearly fought for the right to mate. About a month ago I saw him following an exquisite little white doe, my heart danced for joy at the sight of her, and then leapt still higher as I heard their mating, which was surprisingly brief and surprisingly grunty!

This morning he simply stopped and stared at me; not running, not moving, just watching with those beautiful soft eyes. Then Druid dog ran up to see what was keeping me and the moment was over, he didn't see the deer at all (he's very small and the undergrowth is quite tall, a fact that obscures much of life from his view!)

Walking with a glad heart I was then taken with the beauty of the trees, stopping to simply admire the extravagant gorgeousness of autumn leaves in sunshine. The south westerly wind rustled his fingers through the branches and for a moment it was raining red and gold. I tried to capture tumbling leaves with my phone but had missed the moment, and I stood remembering how as a child I had run around after leaves, believing that I would be lucky all year if I could catch one. I always got one in the end, and I've always felt incredibly lucky.

I remember hearing the Dine elder and wise woman Pat McCabe speak about 'trying an idea on' - thinking something and wondering whether it's true or not, thinking it and seeing what happens when you think it. So there I was wandering along the lane, feeling full to the brim with the beauty of autumn, and wondering if actually this was the correct way to be feeling at this time. How can my heart be so happy, singing with the trees here, when trees in the Amazon are being cut down at a rate of more than 150 acres every minute of every day and 78  million acres ever year? How can I fill my lungs to sing when the lungs of the Earth are being destroyed? 

I looked at the trees and the leaves and the sunshine and the words "Changing Woman" came to me. I saw that the Earth herself is 'Changing Woman' - there are only two things that are certain in this life, one is death, the other is change. Everything changes, everything must change; life is dependent upon change.

So perhaps it's utterly appropriate to be happily in love with the Earth, with all of it, and in particular with this little bit that I have the honour and good luck to live upon. Not to spend my time in grief, bemoaning the loss of things I cannot see from here, but to wander - heart-full - in my own place, and to sing out that love, and live that love with every thought and deed. And as I had this thought a beautiful leaf landed on my heart, and the sun came out.

I feel I have my answer. I know that grief immobilises me, that when I attempt to face all the horrors of the cataclysmic changes going on in the world I can come up with nothing more useful to do than what I already do: I'm trying to be zero waste, I don't buy plastic, I do buy organic, I try never to drive my car for only one reason, I haven't been on an aeroplane since 1998, the list goes on. And the more I walked this morning the more I became absolutely certain that unreservedly loving and celebrating my patch of land is the best, most useful, thing I could possibly do.

I'm not suggesting for a second that this is something to do instead of trying really, really hard to be a blessing not a curse on this land - I'm suggesting that the more we fall in love with Earth, the more we celebrate our indivisibility from all else that is here, the the more we (or I, certainly) will feel able to do what I already do and find the strength for more, and more, even knowing that it makes the very small difference that it does. I will remember also that the difference between life and death is a moment, or a millimetre, and so each small choice by each person counts - could be the difference between life and death for all of us.

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