2 trees wandering

A person of the crossroads making notes while tracking patterns in relationships within the Web of Life and its Mystery

Friday, December 03, 2010

Regeneration comes from dreams, where the energy from a sense of possibility is stronger than the fear of the unknown. So even today, as the bees are struggling for survival and hives are collapsing, a taste of honey or the hum of bees in my garden re-enlivens my belief that the sound of nature’s dreaming is the hum of bees and the audible activity of the hive.

The honeybee is a link to the land and the cycle of growing food. The bees bring nature’s dreaming to the senses and to my table and keep the remembering strong, vibrant and sweet. My part is to remember – in the sound, in the taste, in the garden and in the grocery store – that I am nature and part of the dreaming.

I reclaim my indigenous mind to move beyond current notions of sustainability and step into the dreaming of a future of dynamic regeneration. Indigenous mind is the power of re-energizing our world with all of the hundreds of senses that open our awareness to the web of relationships that are the Earth. The power of this consciousness to renew, adapt and regenerate in new forms is without question more powerful than our single species. Accessing this consciousness means a slowing down, remembering and re-conceiving on a smaller scale to reclaim intimacy with nature and its layers of species as an aspect of our own essential nature. In this way we remain aware of being indigenous to this planet through space, time and mind.

The simplicity and complexity of the bees reminds us that nature is our true nature and that each of us as humans are indigenous to this planet. When we dream in our physical world there is Rapid Eye Movement that shows we are in the dream state. A similar acronym, REMS, gives us keys to reclaiming indigenous mind and an awareness of entering nature’s dreaming: Remember-Embody-Model-Share.


Paw Paw found bees and wild honey through some secret power that he called hive medicine. He said the hive sang to him when the Earth was dreaming. The fact that he brought home honey and sometimes a few stings from following the sound of nature during its dreaming, made his gift all the more mysterious and magical. It made me listen to the bees, birds, wind and grasses more carefully to hear the subtleties.

Each time I heard the bees I listened more carefully to see if I could hear or sense the hive medicine. I don’t have Paw Paw’s ability to listen for subtleties but the bees still bring me messages from the land.


Mid summer I was walking along the edge of the creek out of the haze of midday heat. My thoughts were dancing among the trees and the shafts of sunlight as I dipped my feet in the water. A loud buzzing came towards me from farther up in the meadow. I looked just in time to see a swarm of bees coming towards me. They hovered around my head before I could think to move.

The caress of the hum and the sound of Paw Paw’s voice talking about the Earth’s dreaming slowed me down to Earth time. I slowed down to breathe in the story those bees were telling and the deep scent of flowers and honey and sunshine. I slowed down so that my heartbeat and the hum were tuned to the rhythm of that creek. I’m not sure how long I stood there before the swarm moved on. It is a touchstone to the place in me that connects to the bees and the dreaming of the Earth.

I am reminded that the honeybee, in the recurring patterns of its world, from the unique patterns of its body to the patterns of the hive, embodies nature’s deep dreaming. My own patterns and systems, from the automatic function of breathing to the tides of the water that make up most of my body also link me to the Earth of which I am a part.


Bees were always around us at home. Even when we moved into town we planted for the bees so that they could forage. The garden provided food for the bees and us. Rabbits and raccoons were uninvited guests, discouraged but not excluded. There were smells and activities for every season that reminded us that we were part of the Earth’s turning and gave some of our busier neighbors a chance to reconnect.

The Earth guided and people followed. As children we came along for the stories, songs and chores that made us feel grown up and part of the gathering of people tracking the changes in the land and listening for the messages in those changes. There were the old stories of big changes on the Earth and there were new stories of changes in the patterns of crops and harvest, of birds and animals. There always seemed to be message for everyone.


Both sides of my family used honey like gold. They bartered with it to get more food on the table or to multiply good deeds. When there was new honey brought home we rejoiced and called over the neighbors for dessert. Grandmother Mabel soaked stale cornbread with goat milk and drizzled it with honey while we watched the sunset and shared our gratitude with the neighbors, the ground, the ants and the day that was ending.

As children we gathered like ants around drips of honey to hear the stories of how Paw Paw listened for the signs of dreaming; how he followed the sounds of the birds and wind that led to the hive, how he was stung as he gathered the honey by the bees protecting their hive and queen and how he thanked all the plants on the way home for the nectar that was gathered by the bees. For days afterwards we scoured the woods trying to be quiet enough to hear the dreaming and find the hive.

As the generations reach into the future with the birth of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren I hold onto the stories that connect us to our nature. My nature binds me to the Earth as tightly as the bees are linked to the hive, for physical survival and for the awareness of the Earth and her changes- not as cause or solution, but as an intimate and dynamic detail of her process.

I follow the bees towards the heart of nature’s dreaming. Each breath links me to the rights and responsibilities we are given as children of the Earth:

to remember the earth’s dreaming

to listen to the bees

to breathe with the trees

to use both earth time and clock time to measure our days

to live as a human, indigenous to this planet

to treat others as relatives, not just kindred spirits but strangers and acquaintances

to see all beings as unique ingredients for the well-being of the planet

to share hope through our nature in each encounter

From the past, in the present and for the future.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Gulf Oil Spill

I don't think there is anything prescriptive to say about the enormous disaster in the Gulf. It is a turning point when we are mandated to examine our lifestyles and everyday activities to align them with our belief and rhetoric around our relationship with this living planet that is our mother and our home. I think about my life of travel for work and realize that however I construct my life from this moment it cannot depend upon unlimited amounts of fossil fuel to carry me from one place to the next for my livelihood. That may not be everyone's decision but we are being called to look at our decisions in light of their impact upon our home. Our practice is gratitude for the our lives and our home which are all a part of the natural patterns and our action is to live in awareness of our dependence on this planet and interdependence with all life on it. We are well past the point of convincing others to do something different. We seem squarely in the eye of the storm and the call to re-purpose our human systems (beginning with our individual life) so that they are centered on the well being of all life.

We are beyond teaching and back to learning - how to be a part of our world in a way that springs from relationship and gratitude and inspires hope.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Copenhagen and Us

As I read some of the ongoing conversations about Copenhagen I am struck by the overwhelming attention on science rather than people; numbers rather than connection to land. Does our fear of the possibility of a world inhospitable to human life lead us to ignore the very source of hope for that future - relationship, our ability to dream, connection to the wisdom of nature of which we are part?

My hope for Copenhagen or any other gathering focused on the future of human life on this planet is that we tap into our indigenous mind in order to engage and collaborate with the wisdom of the changing earth for our present and the future.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Indigenous Mind

No matter how much I long for an imagined future for myself and the planet or drag myself back to a perceived idyllic past I am still breathing into the “right now”.  Longing, worry, agitation and frustration can’t change the fact that this moment is the one before me.  It is the one I can experience and transform. This moment I can choose to be right where I am in the fullest possible sense.  I can choose to be aware of the wonder, grace, problems, emotion, connections, conflicts, joys, and pain of it.  And I can breathe to open my senses so that I can feel myself as a small part of the moment in preparation for the depth of possibility it holds.  I can choose to feel my breath linked to a breathing planet through trees and plants.  I can expand my listening to hear the sounds of the other beings who are sharing the moment with me so that my mind does not fill all the space.


This awareness is not a state of achievement.  It is like walking.  I take a step and as one leg lifts off the ground I am close to falling. As I set my foot down again in the movement forward I find stability.   My stability is measured by my orientation. With each breath I am on my way to falling into the whirlwind of human created stimuli- messages, information, emotions, obligations.  I can miss out on the moment with an amnesia that highlights my emotional response and obscures the wonder of the moment.   I can also choose to breathe and create space to look beyond myself to my North Star and reorient myself to my aspiration- relationship and connection.  Or I can choose to tentatively open my senses and my body.  I can expand my moment to the landscape of which I am a detail and find inspiration in the trees, plants, and minerals, bodies of water and creatures of land, air, and water around me.  I can be reminded by nature and become aware of my breath in the moment with my indigenous mind.


My nature binds me to the earth as tightly as I am bound to tree and plant producing oxygen, not only for physical survival but for the awareness of myself as part of the planet and her changes- not as cause or solution, but as an intimate and dynamic detail of her process. I can fall prey to the rhetoric and drama of issues, events and emotions or I can breathe into the tiny moments of choice that allow me to collaborate and participate in my own unique way as a partner with the earth throughout the web of relationships with all other species.


I can continue to ask “how do I live my life right now” or I can take a breath and remember – to listen as well as talk to nature, to receive the breath of the Earth through plants and trees, to feel the smallest vibration of relationship in our actions – to redeem my indigenous mind and move from human centered thinking to earth centered perception.  We have the power to live our lives right now with a new orientation - to listen to the layers of species on the planet for their deeper messages; to be inspired by familiarity and intimacy with our neighboring species; and to open our powers of perception for the possibility for revealing a common future. 

Excerpt from “Indigenous Mind” from the Living Now Anthology to be published  September 2010 by North Atlantic Books

Saturday, March 14, 2009

As the world shifts and changes and we become more and more nomadic, more global and more fragmented, I am suggesting that we create hope for the next generations through the evolution of the collective awareness of our natural state of relationship and learning.
Science tells us that even though we cling to ideas of sustainability that in fact. In fact we are past the point of sustainability. Many scientists and policy makers project that the future of sustainability as currently defined presents a planet inhospitable to much of the current life of the planet including humans.
The signposts of the current landscape of sustainability thinking is full of repeating patterns of fragmented living, learning and thinking; separation from nature and natural cycles and rhythms by regulating human activity with mechanical processes. Even the holistic is viewed as a fragment and cannot provide a model of wholeness while well being is relegated to the margins of visioning.
We have developed a language of sustainability with enough emotional resonance to create the illusion of congruence while co-opting the vitality of a holistic vision of the future.
What we are being asked is to expand into the miraculous possibilities of this time. What we need to meet this challenge is a new orientation.
What we need is a new orientation for the cartography of interdependence and wholeness. We need compass points to align us with the larger web of relationship, our specific place in the moment and the mechanism that corrects our course. Our hope for the future is to recalibrate human consciousness beyond ideas of sustainability towards dynamic regeneration.
“As I think about the role of nature – the patterns of nature and the patterns of individuals – I’m reminded of Tom Johnson’s definition of learning as “discovering and embodying nature's patterns.” He speaks of nature as focused primarily on patterns, which increasingly diversify through a process of interdependent self-organization. For Johnson, we need to understand, in deeper, organic, and systemic ways, the ways in which nature works. But just as importantly, we need to embody those understandings as a way of reconnecting the fragmentation of our world.” -Linda O’Toole
This reconnection is the essential of dynamic regeneration. and the pathway to relationship that recognizes the inherent learning in each of us and the web of life that connects us. We move into the vision of our future by re-energizing and responding to the regenerative power of the dynamics of each moment. There are four keys:
o Remember
o Embody
o Model
o Share
What generates hope is the experience of each moment met with a willingness to find possibility more invigorating than fear of the unknown. At each crucial moment we can listen for the subtle ley lines where miracles are nourished by our unique capacity to learn.
Living right now with the Earth as she changes with us and around us reflected in the changes in our global economic structures, social and environmental challenges, intellectual/emotional turmoil - the currents of possibility intersect with the challenges to our sense of stability and safety. This intersection can be the portal to a future that we continue to promise to ourselves and future generations as possible.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I have never before written a message like this and especially one that seems to be linked to our political system. Today I feel called to send this thought out to my friends and colleagues.

I have been watching the news and in the last few days I have been aware of a feeling that all of the love, support and enthusiasm (golden light) we showered on Obama during the campaign and inaugaration has been refocused on our own lives. Each day he seems more alone in the challenges he faces as our own challenges take more of our attention. I wanted to write to my dearest friends to remind myself and all of us who can see the extent to which his leadership can change consciousness that he needs our energy every day and now more than ever to make that shift.

If he and his work is already on your altar and in your daily practice even for a moment then I ask forgiveness for stating the obviousness and if not I hope that you will draw on the jubilation that we all shared at the inaugaration and bring that joy, support and hope to today and the days ahead in any small way that you can imagine. This is what Obama asked of us in support of the change we all know is needed and each day we can choose to respond to that call.

It is the energy of all of us standing with him even when the news shows a compromising and bleak picture that will provide the momentum for change as it did in the election.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Standing at the Crossroads: Human Responses to Our Planet's Changes

We are standing at the crossroads of multidimensional change. This is not a new situation. Change is a constant in our world and if we observe the natural world through our bodies and our senses we can see that we are designed to respond to change and grow. What overwhelms us at this particular crossroads is the fact that our modern world through media, internet, travel, education makes us aware of many of the changes taking place on the planet among humans, other species and the planet Herself. We inhabit a complex world while trying to understand the nature of complexity and experiencing emotional responses to change that is beyond our current sense of process.

We can stand at this crossroads and try to find ways to get back to “the way things were”

or we can stand still enough to listen to the voices of the other beings sharing that intersection with us and open ourselves to working with them to discover what can be created together rather than for them which highlights our sense of isolation.

I have chosen climate change as a starting point for the conversation highlighted in one of the last sentences of Al Gore’s Live Earth pledge:

All of the actions we take from here on out to solve the climate crisis will be based on a simple premise: our home, Earth, is in danger. We don’t risk destroying the planet, but instead risk making it inhospitable for human beings.

What is being examined is not whether or not this is true but whether the possibility of it creates an emotional response – and so gives a starting point for examination. Related to that possibility, we have internal and external reactions [to global change]. We have emotional and intellectual responses, and responses that prompt us to act, act, act. I believe it is helpful for us to focus our attention on response rather than on action and f begin with orientation. How are we oriented in terms of possibility? What is our orientation to the possibility that the Earth might shake us off?”

In the book “You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination” by Katherine Harmon there is a quote by Stephen S, Hall on mapping and orienteering:

“To orientate is to hop back and forth between landscape and time, geography and emotion, knowledge and behavior. Orientating begins with geography , but it reflects a need of the conscious self-aware organism for a kind of transcendent orientation that asks not just where am I, but where do I fit in this landscape? Where have I been? Where shall I go, and what values will I pack for the trip? What culture of knowledge allows me to know what I know, which is often another way of knowing where I am? And what pattern, what grid of wisdom, can I impose on my accumulated, idiosyncratic geographies? The coordinates marking this territory are unique to each individual and lend themselves to a very private kind of cartography.” (italic inserted by TT)

This highlights three clear points of orientation for this overwhelming complexity. We are conscious, self-aware organisms capable of understanding our own dynamic nature and processes and are continually learning and adapting. That leads us to transcendent orientation where our awareness can help us expand our sense of isolated self. This transcendence reminds us of the infinite Web of Relationship that sustains us. From this orientation we can access a grid of wisdom that helps us consider, reflect upon and contemplate responses to each moment from a powerful grid of Relationship.

One of the possibilities that Al Gore’s pledge places before us is the possibility of human extinction and the overwhelming sense of grief that calls forth whether it is a fact or not.

The possibility that there might no longer be a home for us, that humans would be the endangered species, is a powerful possibility, and it’s terrifying. The sense of loss around that is very powerful. So powerful that it becomes the emotional lens through which we consider action. We engage intellectually in the pursuit of solution based activity.

The trinity of intellectual inquiry: what? how? why? works well when it has a clear “what” in front of it to determine the how and why. When everything comes through an emotional lens filled with uncertainty, grief and loss there’s a fuzzy “what”. We want clarity and a solution for the consuming feelings so we aim straight at “how” and “why” and spend little time reflecting on and clarifying “what”.

What am I angry about/overwhelmed by?

What emotion is storming in me?

Am I clear about what’s on the table for me? (For me, not for all of us.)

Can I ask if we’re going to work on this together: what’s on the table for you, what’s the emotional lens filtering your thoughts now?

Can we spend time clarifying the “what” so that perhaps a new “how?” can be revealed out of that?

In considering our response to the changes on our planet from the perspective of human grief I found an important starting point in the ways that people circumvent the feelings. One of those ways is over-functioning. Get busy on the how and on explaining. Get busy on working, making a list, what am I going to do, and put a lot of work into that. That busyness is actually one of the things that they say can extend the period of grief. Self-medication, over functioning; these are ways of suppressing my emotion. I’m not trying to intimate that there isn’t a lot to do. There is a lot to do and we want to do it in a way that actually creates a new possibility for us – which means orientating ourselves from a new place. To find that new place requires mapping the terrain from grief all the way through those stages to some kind of acceptance in order to be able to step forward.

Our emotional response also reduces our contemplation of the intersections – how the Earth is for us as humans. The conversation starts to contract. If I’m terrified that I’m going to lose my habitat, and my emotional lens is focused on that loss then I’m not going to say, “This is a good time for me to think about consciousness.” Because if I am really upset, and I have the possibility to articulate that I’m upset, not for anyone to fix it, but for that to be spoken and witnessed, there’s something in me that is no longer isolated and contracted. I can observe that I am part of something and by creating that space around emotion by naming it we can center ourselves in the interconnected Web of Life. We might even see ourselves as details of the landscape and look at the Earth not in terms of the way that the Earth services humans, or even in terms of her survival, but see that her changes are part of our emotional landscape. Perhaps we might even stretch to the point where we can see that these changes are important – and what might help us become aware of the Earth’s expanding consciousness.

One of the things that has been a great teaching in my own practice is about seed coats. I have always believed that layers of consciousness behave like seed coats: a lot of agitation is necessary for the seed coat to open up: fire or drowning or digestion. I have made my way through many tension filled transitions and lessons by reminding myself of how a seed coat is broken open to germinate. Tension can be the best indicator of a natural generative force such as germination or learning. We are in a time of tension now and discovering what can be generative in this tension rather than trying to smooth it away too quickly to find harmony or comfort might be how we miss the moments of greatest potential.

One of the questions I’d like to put on the table as a starting point is less, “What to do?” but more, “What to be?” How do we experience ourselves differently from how we have experienced ourselves up to now? Many spiritual practices point to emotions as a gift of the human state. That’s fabulous. Do we want them to drive the vision of the future? Given that we have both this enormous possibility looming before us and our individual and collective emotional reactions to it how can orient ourselves for this multidimensional crossroads? Can we include and clarify emotional responses in our conversations explicitly so we can move into another consciousness to inform our action?

Our spiritual traditions give us the means to deepen our self awareness and our relationship with our planet and universe. The Christian mystics, Buddhist dharma, Hindu and Muslim teachings, indigenous earth wisdom, all of these point in some way to a spiritual orientation that is the bedrock of perception and action in our physical reality. In this age where so many have found a faith base that is spiritually centered around a crossroads of beliefs that allows them to respond to the complex world, it is truly the time to test the strength of our beliefs through our actions so that our internal and external responses are aligned with our larger relationship with the Earth and an expanding consciousness.

How do we begin? Breathe and become aware – become aware of sharing breath with the planet and open ourselves to being breathed by Her. Breathing is an automatic function that is the gateway to the Web of Life. Our breath opens us to the consciousness of all of life so that we can participate in relationship rather than isolated as the center of our own tiny universe.

Breathing is a spiritual practice even when we are not aware that it is. Spiritual practice then is not separated from our everyday lives but is the underlying automatic function of our day. We may give over a portion of our day to expand and deepen our capabilities as self aware organisms in relationship with all of life and the living. Our ability to utilize this awareness in the midst of an emotional reaction to the news or a conversation or catastrophic information is the heart of transcendent orientation and the crossroads of consciousness.

Can we begin to support each other in this attempt to expand consciousness and our ability to act from that expansion in the same way that we support each other around problems and issues?