Sitting daily with the Earth
It’s foggy this morning. The thick cushion of clouds hangs low, wrapping the earth like a down blanket, and the rising sun is trying to emerge from behind them. Seagulls dash from one edge of the sky to the next, and the dedicated surfers are suiting up for their ritual early morning plunge into the icy pacific ocean. Despite the fog, which typically brings chilly air to this corner of the central coast of California, this morning is warm. The humid air rises and surrounds my body huddled on the dewy grass at dawn, reminding me of my childhood in the south and of every spring I have spent there.
This is the choreography of the morning, the unique dance of clouds and birds and humans and winds that the world is doing in this particular place, on this particular day. I imagine that, for centuries, my ancestors, upon waking, did this. They took stock of the day, greeting the morning with an account of what was where. How are the winds? Is it a good day for fishing or for hunting? In what field will the berries be ripening today?
On a good day, I join my ancestors in this practice. Before doing anything else, I go and greet the morning. It goes like this: I wake up, pull on a jacket and shoes, walk across the street to a public park, climb over the painted blue metal, and climb down a ledge and I sit.
My sit in nature, which is a part of a practice I have kept for many years, is like a mindfulness meditation, but done outside, with my eyes open, my ears attentive and my heart as wide as I can allow it to be. Sometimes I sit for a half an hour, sometimes just for a few minutes. I sit and breathe with some of the biggest questions of life. Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is the next step on the path to fulfilling that purpose? I also just sit there and wonder what I’m going to have for breakfast and has it been 15 minutes yet?
Going to this same spot, sometimes religiously, sometimes sporadically, but steadily over time, is one of the most essential things I do as a change-maker, someone who is trying to affect positive change on behalf of future generations, in the world today. There are the obvious outcomes: the peace, the stress release, the better listening and compassion.
But it has done something far more profound in my life. It has allowed me to find a place of belonging. Belonging that is beyond fitting in, or finding my people or vocation. It is belonging to the Earth, finding that deep and ancient sense of belonging to in our matrix of life. Belonging to the web of life, belonging to the ecosystems and streams and air as much as a toad or rock or chirping birds.
Wouldn’t we interact differently with our world if we saw ourselves as a part of it? Wouldn’t we treat our water systems and soil and all the flora and fauna differently if we knew we were not separate from them, but instead intricately intertwined?
I think so many problems in our world today stem from seeing things as separate: groups of people, ourselves and animals, ourselves and plants, ourselves and the rest of the world. What would it be like when we start seeing ourselves as interconnected again? The decisions I make, the courses I have taken, is so much different when I move from a place of understanding my life embedded in a web of interconnection with all creatures.
Thank you, sit spot, thank you to this little edge of world, thank you for the opportunity to belong, and for the understanding you have granted me.