Cucumber greets a retreat participantPhoto by Earthfire Institute

Cucumber was a small, aloof wolf. For years she went about her business working to become the alpha female in her pack. She wanted little to do with humans. One December she became critically ill. She had a raging infection and her organs were close to shutting down. The vet said the only hope was exploratory surgery to find the cause but that she was too weak to survive it. We tried anyway. She essentially died and was revived during the four-hour operation. A section of her small intestine had rotted and decayed and had to be removed.

Woman tends to a wolf laying in a veterinarian's cage after surgery

Cucumber recovering after surgery | Earthfire Institute

Somehow, miraculously, she survived. Hovering on the edge of life and death we brought her into our cabin to recover. She required intensive round-the-clock monitoring, medications and nursing care for many weeks. I literally spoon-fed her chicken soup. Somewhere in that period she changed dramatically.

At that time Jean and I did a daily morning meditation together. He would start by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl. To our utter amazement, Cucumber got up and started to circle both of us three times, then lay down under the table next to us. When we rang the bowl again to signal the end of the “sacred space” she got up, circled us three times again, and then came to us for affection. She continued this daily for the rest of her long life.

Wolf licking a woman's face

Cucumber and Susan | Earthfire Institute

We hold retreats of many types at Earthfire and one of them was a shamanic retreat held by Rose De Dan, whose intention was to build a bridge between wild animals and humans. The retreat was in our beautiful yurt looking out at the Tetons. It had been going on for three days, with the participants in a quieted, receptive mindset, when Jean decided on a hunch to bring Cucumber to the yurt to meet them. She had never been around a group of people before and hesitated at the bottom of the steps. To our astonishment, after an initial hesitation, she seemed to pull herself together and walked up the steps ahead of Jean into the yurt. She began to greet each person in turn as she went methodically around the circle. She paused to connect with each one. There was complete silence and awe. It was a magical moment.

Something had opened in her still further; some level of trust and interest in interacting with humans. She was responding to the receptive energy of the people in the yurt.

We have more stories like this, with other animals, always with similar circumstances of people in a quiet receptive respectful place. It is the origin of my development of the concept of Reconnection Ecology: beginning to sense what is possible when we connect. It includes how that changes our world view, and how we live the world. So rich. Such possibilities.

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