With powerlines hanging dangerously heavy with debris we had no electricity for nearly a week. Getting on ‘the grid’ 13 years ago was a akin to a miracle. Light at the flick of a switch. But today I am aghast that my home grown frozen bananas have become a brown mushy slop.
Trees and powerlines across roads and driveways. A stillness hangs in the air where an imperceptible buzz once hummed. No one’s going anywhere today. Quiet candlelight glows warm. I love the reprieve, but I am antsy. I can’t get online. No internet for 5 days! OMG! I have to admit I’m addicted, dependent, with all the thought processes that accompany those consuming behaviours. I see how much I use the computer as a destination; a place to read, be informed, communicate, interact, amuse myself, and a place of self imposed isolation.
Scrabble and backgammon are dusted off. The winds whip and howl, the rain like stinging darts as I tackle the plumbing outside. Inside-out umbrellas are useless. We spend hours talking and laughing. I devour a book by Helen Garner. All the towels and buckets are used for catching leaks. (Lush thick towels were never designed to be wrung out by hand.) Safe and sheltered we conjure enticing meals out of a ordinarily empty pantry. An unexpected holiday, so to speak.
Thanks to the storm, I discovered a new magazine: Dumbo Feather. Without travelling in cyberspace or going anywhere, time is plentiful. I read it cover to cover. I am enlivened and inspired by an interview with Vendana Shiva. An extraordinary Indian woman, international human rights and environmental activist, not only for the injustices of agri-business that she has exposed and her uncompromised intellect, but outstanding for her indisputable intelligence of the heart. Her undying fiery spirit is fuelled by her faith. Vendana says we must accept the irrelevance of our effort’s outcomes, only that we must continue to find alternative sustainable solutions, solutions of heart and peace and justice. Warmed by this contagious enthusiasm, capable and creative activists can abstain from the cynicism and burnout that might otherwise swallow their capacity to continue. Wisdom from she-who-knows.
Two days later I see a Brisbane newspaper headlines: CYCLONE OSWALD UNLEASHES ITS FURY. How do we know it was in a ‘fury’? Maybe we are in a fury dealing with infrasructure damage and the looming sense of our pitiful insignificance compared to Mother Nature. She is humbling. We live on this planet by Her good graces, but we rarely communicate with the forces of nature, like Indigenous people always have.
We have forgotten to acknowledge and attune to the subtle energies that come from each direction, the everchanging map of the night sky, the seasonal relationship between the birds, insects, wind direction, foods, fish and flowers. We live on the Earth. As if it was a concrete slab, a blank canvas, an inanimate object. We build houses and cities where forests once stood, where fires and floods are prevalent, and then vilify the forces of nature, as if we ‘owned’ this place. What if we chose to see ourselves as responsible guardians of this great Mother Earth? And, what if, in order to fulfil our duty of care, we had to listen, really listen, to Her needs?
Communicating with the primordial forces of earth and the cosmos deepens and strengthens our relationship, our connection, to the seen and unseen. The daily practice of acknowledgement and gratitude keeps the ‘dreaming’ alive. When we are in need, when life seems to be pulled out from under us, then this relationship, this connection, will be our dependable companion. Whether the weather or sunset seems dramatic or blasé, notice Her, the subtle and the wild. She is not a backdrop to our personal dramas, but the main character in this miracle we call life.
Shhhhhhh…….. turn off the lights tonight. Turn off your screen. If only for 20 minutes. Shhhhhh. Listen.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance, the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart. And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet and the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again. - Oriah Mountain Dreamer