“… the cause of climate instability is everything: every dimension of our separation from earth, nature, heart, truth, love, community and compassion.” – Eisenstein, Charles, Climate: A New Story, Berkley, North Atlantic Books, 2018 pp 133-134.
Despite repeated predictions of rain, the weather remained unreasonably dry during the winter of 2019 to 2020 in Southern Oregon. We were all worried about the months to come. Forest fires, dry wells and lack of water for irrigation do not make for a pleasant summer. I began to include more prayers to honor the rain in my daily practices, b ut the skies remained a clear, pristine blue.
By early spring, we were still without rain. As I prayed at my altar outdoors, I noticed one small cumulous cloud passing overhead in the clear blue sky. Suddenly I heard what I recognized as a rain spirit exclaim from the cloud in response to my prayers, “I thought you people didn’t want me down there!”
We so underestimate the power of our hearts and minds, and in this case, the negative power of perpetually scapegoating and complaining about the weather.
After four days of ceremony, a soft rain began to fall on the parched Hopi land. When one man queried the Hopi Elder about what prayers he had said to call in the rain, the Elder replied,
” I didn’t ask anything of the rain.”
“Then how did you pray?!” the man asked in puzzled consternation.
The Elder replied gently, “I asked nothing of the rain. I simply gave thanks for the many gifts the rain shares with us.”
Four days of giving Thanks…
Old stories from around the world describe other times such as these; times when the people are out of balance within themselves, with each other, and with all Creation, times when the elements seem to erupt and express in extremes, causing cataclysmic shifts to cleanse the earth and reset the balance.
The preponderance of these stories suggest such times are just one of Earth’s cycles. There is no blame for the patterns of consciousness, delusion and separation we are collectively caught up in, only the need to take responsibility where we can.
I know of no story in which rebirth does not follow dissolution.
Gratitude helps heal our frightened, fractured souls, reconnects us to Source and feeds the vitality of all living beings. Nature is starved from lack of love, appreciation, respect and the songs and dances we once offered in return for the gift of life.
“Where have you all been?” the tree under which my friend performed her ceremony queried her in sad distress. “We’ve missed you!”
As within, so without; how well do we relate to the element as they ask for expression within us? Do we suppress, judge and project watery or fiery emotions? Do we rise too far into the airy realms of the intellect, separating ourselves from other beings? Do we judge and resent the forms our earth bodies take in sickness or in health?
Or do we welcome these parts of our natural selves into the Sacred Space of the Compassionate Heart?
A woman who had always hated her body for being heavy, developed amytrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) a severe, usually rapidly degenerative condition considered fatal and incurable. Emaciated from the ravages of disease, the woman said to herself,
” Well, isn’t this ironic? All I’ve wanted is to be thin and now my dream is killing me. I’m going to learn to love this body if it’s the last thing I do!”
With fiery resolve, she assigned herself a daily ritual of facing her reflection in the mirror and not leaving until she had found one thing to love about her body. The next day it had to be two things and on up each day. The side effect of her determined practice was the disappearance of the disease. This true story illustrates the power of fiery resolve, love and the perseverance of reweaving the web, one thin strand at a time.
Can we call ourselves back into balance and give thanks to Earth, Air, Water, Fire, when wind whipped flames ravage dehydrated forests, filling the air we breathe with thick, heavy smoke in the midst of a respiratory pandemic? Can we express gratitude when wind marries water in a stormy romance that escalates into wildly enormous hurricanes, blowing the sweet order of our lives asunder and leaving our homes awash in the floods of their tumultuous ardor? Can we turn to the Great Earth as our Mother in humility and thanks when even she seems aligned with these turbulent forces, moving and shifting her tectonic plates in unpredictable patterns that leave us shaky and scared, unsure of where to find our foundations?
Yet without these forces, without these four elements, there is no life. Wind provides and circulates the air we breathe and feeds the fires of enthusiasm that get us out of bed in the morning. Water tones fire, quenches our thirst, cleanses our bodies and provides rivers and lakes for fish, frogs and the playful child within us all. Fires is the igniting force of vitality that sparks the light in our eyes, warms our homes and cooks our food. Earth gives us the plants, the stones, the animals, a place to garden and play and a place to call home. Earth gives us our bodies, a place for our spirits to incarnate.
Yes, wind is whipping up fires and floods of destruction and yes the earth intermittently quakes and shifts with great magnitude, but let’s stop scapegoating the weather. Let’s reweave the torn shreds of the Web of Life, one sacred strand at a time. Let’s choose to remember the gifts the elements share; gifts of life. Instead of complaining, let’s dance in the rain, sing into the wind, celebrate the lightening and leave offerings for the fire. Let’s humble ourselves as little children and lie down on the body of our Earth Mother is gratitude for the bountiful generosity and enduring love she has for all her children.
It has been my experience that once I begin a ceremony of giving thanks, I become overwhelmed by how much there is for all of us to be grateful for, even in teh most perilous of times.