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Wandering along the Boundaries of Civilization and Wildness, in Sickness and in Health

Wandering along the Boundaries of Civilization and Wildness, in Sickness and in Health

January 1st, 2013 (No Comments)

Tension and boundaries dwell in an inseparable yet fecund relationship. All over the planet, the re-framing of a boundary produces yet another tension which then spawns more struggles to define the many limitations of growth. This is a fierce and often deadly conflict we all know too well. Like every year before us, 2013 will hopefully be a year where many boundaries will be vigilantly guarded for all of Earth’s safety and peace. Many too will be sadly violated. I offer this New Year’s Day meditation as a draught of inspiration, to all those who like me are wandering in sickness and in health along the boundaries of Civilization and Wildness.

This morning I walked in the wild spaces of our Philadelphia suburban property. Despite my body lethargy after almost a week indoors with the flu, I rambled along the stream rivulets, the muddy flats and the snow covered banks. As I clambered over boulders that have been on this land for millennia. I wondered how we as humans can honor our native wildness, yet still relish the gifts of our human civilization. The roads were so quiet this morning that I could hear my rasping breath–in and out.  I was grateful to be well-enough to enjoy being outdoors.

As I breathed, my lungs crackled and hissed, and then coughed, again and again. In harmony, I witnessed the land doing the same thing. In a remarkable way, for a time, I shared the constricted breathing of the wilderness around me.  Sick, but not dying, she so often competes for breathing space with us humans, and we barely get quiet long enough to see or hear her true state. Even I — the benevolent organic gardener and caretaker-supreme of my own kingdom — have built a boundary in my mind. “I’d like to clear-up up the wild space of this property this year,” I have told my family and friends. “Tidy up? Order the wilderness?”  How very colonial, and possibly thoughtless of me.

Maybe I need to spend more time being even more silent in the muck and rough spots of this land. Maybe my first question of the year is to ask this land what she wants.  What does she need from me? Maybe nothing.  Maybe just my witnessing presence. Or maybe she might want to show me some invisible pox, riding rampant on chemical, spirit or bubbling-up-ether of the past?  We are all connected, we all are one family, but rushing around working is not going to serve anybody very effectively.

As I noted tree-bark rubbed raw by over-grazing deer and hosts of invasive vines, I also heard the distant hiss of the ocean as her constricted lungs are polluted by our ever-adventuring presence. I wondered if the gross purulent expulsions of violent human rage that our daily newscasts have been reporting, come from an even deeper place. Maybe these terrifying forces spew out the infections that we as humans so easily hide from each other. Maybe these shadows of darkness must be paraded from the housetops of our civilization  so we can find powerful new ways of saying no.

We so easily separate ourselves from the more grisly aspects of ourselves as nature. We have made walls and separated ourselves as Other. Maybe a cleansing is taking place, so we can set up more clear universal boundaries on what we truly value for All. We have been ignorant boundary violators – all of us. I don’t like to think of myself as a rampant power grabber who wants more of everything for herself, but maybe I need to be reminded today of the native law of reciprocity. If we take anything, then we must always give something back. There is enough for all of us to co-exist in a certain kind of harmony if we slow down our demand for gratification.

As I enter this New Year, I wonder what soulful gift this land invites from me. What of myself can I give to this beautiful earthy mass of resilience and creativity? How I can give back to you my neighbor who has conflicts around your choice to change? The healing of the influenza virus in my body is not only by my choice, healing happens naturally in a functioning immune system. All of earth groans as disease is expelled and waits transformation. If you’ve read this far, I know you too believe that eventually goodness and compassion will bring new dimensions of how to live at peace.

In light of this, I offer a special prayer of honor for Hillary Clinton. If there is any one person on this globe who has publicly taken it on the head for us as troubled people,  one who has persistently and tirelessly sacrificed her own needs on behalf of global peace, it is this fine woman. May we see her brain trauma and her life-long pursuit of creative goodness as an example, a metaphor of one who now carries for us the residual cloud of global conflict – and let’s each of us respond by offering our unique selves back to be purveyors of goodness and compassion.

And… here’s to a healthier immune system for All in 2013!

Carol Kortsch,  Jan 1, 2013

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