I am sitting here on my back deck in Maine, while the forceful breeze surrounds me. It is not harsh and co-mingles with the sun’s warming rays. Now and again a discarded cherry tree blossom lands unceremoniously on my leg or arm. Leaving it to itself, it eventually, joyously flies off on another incoming breeze, in search of another place to rest until the next burst carries it off.
Today, I thought I was to finish reading “glitter and glue” . This was not to be. As the sun bathed my legs and shoulders, I was drawn instead to the clouds accessorizing the azure sky, a welcome change from the early morning rain. So many shapes and sizes. Some with gray shading otherwise cottony, billowy puffs of whiteness. A smile comes across my face, an act not dissimilar to the shadows from the clouds, floating across the pasture, as the wind pushes them along. I pause and consider the interconnection of the wind and clouds. My heart swells with gratitude for such a moment as this. It pulses from my heart and I envision it beaming out to the world something not unlike a light force.
Gratitude. It has only recently come to my attention that gratitude does not come as naturally to all as it does to me. I grew up surrounded by trees; time to spend dipping my toes in the cool lake or streams; scaling sixty foot tall trees, as though they were important conquests, being grateful for each limb that guided me up and safely returned me to the earth. I know that I never considered the act of being grateful. I was inherently grateful and understanding of the symbiotic relationship of nature and mankind.
I give talks on connecting people to food and often weave them with reference to subjects such as climate change; human trafficking and even death. I encourage people to think about their food in terms of the earth from which it sprang; the people who harvested it; what happens to what they throw away.
One day when coming to the end of such a talk and referencing gratitude, I noticed the eager stares; the faces which were remembering a time when they enjoyed a tomato at the kitchen sink, its juice running down their arm. Or perhaps remembering a bite of savory steak, bursting with flavor within the confines of their mouth. I saw something else. I saw confusion as I spoke of this thing “gratitude”. I saw confusion and a sense of being overwhelmed as I spoke of considering their food in terms of who grew their food; what impact on them and the world did that growing have.
Evelyn C. Rysdyk writes of “sacred reciprocity” in chapter three of “Spirit Walking” – the idea of “mutual, respectful” interaction. I use it here as an understanding that we and the earth are interconnected. The earth takes in what we give it and returns to us what we give it in a form which we can use for living. If we give it garbage, it will return garbage and eventually, we will cease to exist. If we are grateful and understanding of sacred reciprocity, connecting to the earth with respect and love for all it offers, it is probable that we cannot do anything, but thrive as we give and receive.
The breeze is still warm and firm as I write. The tree bends its branches, causing the leaves to wave. Birds take respite in its limbs and share their perspective. In this moment it is as though it, too is expressing gratitude. It is grateful I have chosen to share its message that we are all interconnected. If as human beings, we fail to reconnect; if we fail to remember we have not always been confused by the thought of our connectivity, then we are certainly nearing our end.
If we chose to remember. If we chose to know the symbiotic nature of our existence, we cannot help, but grow a better planet. A planet that thrives from our caring and shows us care in return. For the hope of that time, I am grateful.