Mule Deer Buck standing in the woods

Our — by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — I recently attended an urgent retreat called ReVersing Extinction, where we sought out-of-the-box ways to reverse the accelerating rate of species extinctions. During a break, I found myself in conversation with Stan Rushworth, a Native American teacher and writer of rare power. He told me about an encounter he had some years ago in the forest. He was walking among the trees, unarmed, when he saw a young stag. They looked at one another. As Stan resumed walking, the stag walked parallel to him a short distance away. They were simply enjoying each other’s company, warily, but in growing comfort. This went on for several minutes. Then, for a fleeting...

Maxwell the Magpie

— by Jessica Friedman — For several years, I worked as an animal caretaker at an outdoor education facility in New Mexico. Every day, I had the privilege of introducing children to the animals in my care: chickens, burros, sheep, goats, cows, and ponies. Some of these kids had never met an animal besides their dog or cat, and seeing their faces light up as they interacted with these creatures made every day special. Knowing that this connection with animals could lay a foundation of love and respect for the natural world made filled my days with purpose and passion. But as much as I cherished my work with those young souls, my favorite part of the job were the hours spent between...

Man with dog in the woods

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — “The presence of the natural world is a direct path to personal healing and collective transformation...” Dr. Linda Bender In her online course last year, wildlife vet Linda Bender spoke with several thought leaders on the relationship between spirituality, healing and nature. My own part was speaking about the healing quality of connecting with animals, using stories to share what I have learned from the animals I have lived with. At a time when we are overwhelmed with information, we have no frame of reference with which to organize all this information and make coherent sense of it for our lives. For that, we have to go back to the ground from...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — In November's Conservation Conversation, wildlife vet Linda Bender and I shared a conversation on how nature heals, joined by participants who contributed their own profound insights. This was a wonderful conversation--one that needs to be continued. With its quiet, inviting presence, Nature invites us to calm, to come back to ourselves in communion and companionship with other life. Through connection with other living beings and the interchange of energy that then flows, we are renewed. We feel less alone. Quieted, our body begins to relax and more freely exercise its natural healing capacities. As Linda noted, we have a whole pharmacopeia within us,...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — “When you open your heart to an animal and you just allow that awareness to spread out from your heart to that other being, we become irresistible.” —Linda Bender DVM Sometimes a conversation is so good, so inspiring, so healing, that you want to share it with everyone. In the rich, calming, hopeful conversation I share with world-renowned wildlife veterinarian Linda Bender, she speaks of what she has learned from working with animals. It is a beautiful, calming, fascinating conversation, inviting our imagination to soar to what is and could be. When insights are really important, we need to hear them more than once to begin to digest and be able to...

— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — For more than 100 years it grew, gracing the home of the people who planted and gave life to it. It added a note of beauty and peace to the center of the small town, heralding spring with the fresh green of bursting buds, town crier for the renewal of life. It gave shade and coolness in the summer, bent with limber limbs in the winds, turned a golden yellow in the fall, glowing in the late afternoon light. It watched over births, triumphs, tragedies and deaths; over generations of humans each locked into the perspectives of their own short lives. The willow was there, greening, gracing and growing. Times changed. The town grew. The willow just grew...

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