A few days ago, during that gorgeous Pink Moon, I was out in my backyard trying to open to the beauty of nature as an antidote to the insanity of these pandemic per diems. The inspired message came through, clearly.
The phrase brought back something that I once loved, that I haven’t thought of in quite a while: the sacred art of deep listening.
My Mama used to insist that we learn to walk silently in nature so that we could listen.
“See if you can step without making a noise,” she would say, demonstrating how it was done. And the four of us would follow.
It was in this way that I fell in love with the natural world. Whether spinning beneath the branches of a tree, cloud gazing, or watching a mother mouse – laden with her babies – rustle quickly through the undergrowth of the Great Okefenokee to escape the patient snake slithering behind – it was my mother’s love of nature that taught me to listen.
Listening to the wind is something that became part of my own identity as a teenager. In those years, I learned to listen to the rattle of the marsh grasses along the Ogeechee River, and the whisper of the brackish water where secrets lurked. Gathering the energy of storms to enlivened my innate creativity, and I listened intently for the sounds of destruction and high winds which could accompany thunder and lightning. Listening to the wind, even now, feels like heady combination of exhileration and survival.
Listening to the wind is sometimes called “deep listening.” Couples therapists often speak of “deep listening” when asking their clients to place mindful attention to the words the partners in front of them are saying to one another.
In the world of spiritual ecology and ecofeminism, the term more often refers to deeply listening to nature as it has something to teach us. Whether nature provides a model, a guide, or an inspiration, “deep listening” to Her guidance offers humans is wholly supportive skill.
Surprisingly, the phrase “listen to the wind” is also found in translations of Revelations 2:17. In this passage, it’s equated with listening to the divine. With the sacred act of dropping attention into one’s heart space to collect the wisdom of eternal love to be found within: a secret, sacred place, a smooth stone, engraved with our secret name. The gift is from the divine, and it is ours to receive.
Of late, I find myself turning to nature for sustenance: “listening to the wind.” Earlier in the week, the Wind howled and turned like a sisterhood of banshees at a barn dance. I sat up all night and listened so be certain that my family was safe, not resting until the turmoil abated. The storm was both fierce and awe-inspiring, reminding me of other profound storms (actual and metaphorical) I’d witnessed – and overcome.
What I have learned from the wind and her animate companions is this: the world did not shut down for COVID-19. Plants are growing; flowers are blooming. Bees are still buzzing. The nesting tanagers greet me each morning. The sweet baby rabbits still jump about outside the hutch.
It’s as though Nature herself is twirling about, a circle of seasons her swirling skirt, and her dance brings great joy and light to our lives.
The “world” that is falling away? It’s literally “not working,” as we are not working. At its center, a view of global or nationalistic economic systems that leaves many of us – as peoples and cultures – bereft of healthy choices. We are becoming aware that we’ve a built world of false and weak structures out of sync with the natural world and our own innate human natures. We are now collectively beginning the arduous task of sorting out the strife, illness, willful ignorance, unsustainable business practices, and unhealthy choices that affect us individually and collectively.
As for me and mine, my business and my beloveds, we’ll find a new way of working.
This week, we are busy as bees, creating opportunities for hive mind. We embrace the bright future offered by this respite like flowers facing the sun. Chewing on thoughts like beavers on a log, we’re laying in new foundations so that the sacred part of our business and life has a place to dwell. I am reminded to take it on faith that the universe will continue to unfold as it should, even when we’re staring into shadow.
Daily, I begin by listening to the wind. Nature, in surround sound, comforts and sustains me.
So be it.