Of Lonely Trees & Talking Rivers

Our “Showing Up For Life on Earth” Conservation Conversation in Review

Dr. Susan Eirich and members of the Earthfire Community came together to discuss the topic “Showing Up for Life on Earth” and what that means for us individually and collectively to benefit all Life. The online video conversation took place on Wednesday, November 15th, 2017.

Of all the things we can do in any day, “showing up” for Life is the most important—for us individually, and for all beings on Earth.

How do we do this? By turning our awareness outward toward other living beings, we discover how all life is personally and intimately connected to us. Through this growing awareness of our deep connection with all life, our own vast capacity for creativity and action is nourished. 

In this seventh month of our online community conversations, the fruits of shared conversation, of personal ways of seeing shared among us, are leading to an ever richer appreciation and understanding of Life and shared sense of purpose. 

Reflection by Susan Eirich, PhD

I read once about a scientist who lived alone except for a goldfish in a bowl. He wrote that when he came home the goldfish always moved to the side of the bowl closest to him as he entered the room. He felt a sense of companionship from that fish and began to look forward to its greeting. A couple of years ago that would have seemed fanciful. Then out came a book called What A Fish Knows and it is no longer fanciful at all. From the intelligence of octopus and slime molds to the need for companionship among living beings, we are beginning to understand Life and its capacities more deeply.

What might we sense intuitively, yet not have quite brought forth into our conscious, focused awareness? This is part of our human journey—to become more and more aware of the incredible beauty we were born into. The beauty of the Earth, the beauty of Life. To begin to know it, and enjoy the profound pleasure of nurturing and protecting it. These conversations are part of that effort.

In this seventh conversation, Eva spoke about the book, The Hidden Life of Trees and how connected they are to one another; how much they communicate. Then she said something that struck deep into my heart—how cut off the trees in the city are, encased in concrete, with no way they can communicate. That they must be lonely. That it is important for us to go up to them, tell them we know we uprooted them and put them there for our pleasure, and thank them for the beauty and life and shade they bring to us. I sensed their loneliness but never thought of it with quite that clarity. I had sort of thanked them but never with conscious intent.

Trees in an urban landscape
Trees isolated in a sea of concrete and urban buildings • Photo by Yolanta (shutterstock.com)
Senior woman touching the bark of a pine tree
Sending positive energy and love to the trees • Photo by Monkey Business Images (shutterstock.com)

Gabriel shared how she brings women from the city to various places along the edge of the Mississippi river. Usually people just drive over the river, oblivious to the magic. Gabriel gives them the time and the structure to sit by the water’s edge and begin to converse with the river itself. I will not cross a river mindlessly again.

Goldfish, Trees, Rivers….what next? The Earth herself. Marta talked about picking up plastic as she walked. “The Earth doesn’t want to be covered in plastic,” she said. I have seen the plastic, picked it up, felt the dissonance – but Marta took it a step further. I had sensed it but never thought of it quite that way.

So how do we Show Up for Life on Earth?

Several participants, in different ways expressed their sense of the Earth as a living being who longs to share love with us, and give love back. How do we begin this? Marta said, “a huge key is to go outside, even for a few minutes and the Earth will tell us how we can give back to her.” She said sometimes she will go outside “for no particular reason” and then find herself drawn to something. I don’t think it is “for no particular reason,” really. I think the Earth is calling her, as it does all of us, but she somehow has the inner spaciousness to be able to attend to it. Her sharing that thought perhaps makes it easier for the rest of us to notice the Earth calling.

The idea that the Earth longs to love and be loved made Chelsea think: every relationship needs a give and take, a listening, an ongoing courtship and perhaps we should think of beginning a courtship with the Earth. Kiki in turn shared how she was pushed, by love, to overcome her “laziness” and listen.

Gabriel’s work is to inspire and liberate people through experience, as with the river, so they can in turn become leaders, having been taught by the Earth.

In The Three Marriages, poet David Whyte quotes Wordsworth from The Prelude,

The morning was…
More glorious than I ever had beheld,
The sea was laughing at a distance; all
the solid mountains were as bright as clouds…,
And in the meadows and the lower grounds
Was all the sweetness of a common dawn,
Dews, vapors and the melody of birds….to the brim
My heart was full; I made no vows, but vows
Were then made for me; bond unknown to me
Was given that I should be, else sinning greatly, a dedicated Spirit….”

Dirt path through a foggy forest
A path winds through the thick woods • Photo by Randy Bjorklund

A spirit dedicated to following the path shown when we go out to meet Life and it in turn comes to find us. Dedicated to serving Life.

I had posed the question, “Do we need to be led or in these times do we each need to be a leader? Do we have that capacity?” (My answer being “yes.”) Gitte talked about finding a way to lead ourselves, and then walk hand in hand with others, being “led” towards something together in a dance: inner and outer, self/other, finding and showing. Wendy suggested perhaps we don’t lead or be led, but to link, together.

In order to Show Up for Life, we need to understand it and in this conversation we were exploring together to reach a greater understanding. But in the end it is something else as well. Eva shared wisdom from an indigenous elder. She asked him what he saw as the greatest obstacle that surprised him in all his meetings with people around the world. He said it was that they were coming to him saying, “You are the elder. You can lead us.” His reply; “No, it is you taking responsibility that is first and foremost.”

Many more shared heartfelt wisdom; some who spoke and others, silent listeners, who lent their energy, focus and caring as a supportive background for the conversation. You can listen to the conversation here.

We have much more to explore together, many more voices to hear. Join us for the next one, We Can Be the Light in These Dark Times, on December 20, 6 pm MST. We look forward to you sharing your own beauty and wisdom, enriching our tapestry of purpose and connection with all Life.

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