If we are willing to listen, learn, and change, while living in a pandemic world, there are a few silver linings to be wrung from the pain and suffering the world is going through. For those who are unfamiliar with the expression, silver lining comes from the proverb, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” meaning, every negative situation has a positive aspect that emerges from it – that there is hope or something good to be found in every bad situation. And indeed, if we recognize that the way we’ve been treating Mother Earth and all our relations is the root cause of this pandemic, then we can set about changing the way we treat the natural world. As Amma recently said in an address about silver linings in the time of Covid 19, “We didn’t realize that what we were doing was tantamount to sawing the very branch of the tree we were sitting on.”

But how do we change the way we treat Nature, for it’s true that how we act stems from our values? Our values are formed from our experiences, and sometimes the experiences that form our values, and that of corporate America are shaped by fear, worry, pain, and profit at any cost. If we’ve lost touch with the natural world, and we’re afraid we won’t have enough of everything we need to survive, then we plunder, destroy, and ravage the Earth without regard for protecting her incomprehensible beauty, and taking only what we need for food, clothing, and shelter. The First Nations of the Americas knew this, and lived in close communion with all our relations – and that included every kingdom, and every species. This precious Earth has been bestowed upon us as a sign of the Love which created us. In turn, we must cherish her, or perish.

So, back to the silver lining: One of those is the possibility to be more sensitive to the rhythms, cycles, and movements of Nature. We may, or may not currently be going to a job every day, but we either have the time to settle into a deeper connection with all aspects of Nature, or we need to make the time. Because it’s about intention and awareness, and it’s possible at this time of awakening, for us all to be more aware. Plus, we can have a more enhanced experience of Nature with our children or grandchildren, so they can grow up feeling and valuing their kinship with all life.

It was while studying with Tom Brown Jr., the Tracker, in the Pine Barrens of NJ in the 80’s that I learned that OBSERVATION is the key to “grokking” the wilderness. For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 60’s 😉 reading one of my favorite novels – Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein, that term means – to understand something – to really get it – through empathy, or intuitively. When a butterfly flutters nearby, do you stop and let its beauty and grace enter your soul? Are we even aware that this is a gift to lighten our hearts? When a bird lights on the railing of your deck or windowsill, do you see how alert it is to every nuance around itself? See that tail twitch at the slightest breeze? It is intensely aware of its surroundings. That’s how it survives.

Observation stimulates curiosity, which helps us to be fresh, pure, and new, like children are when they have no preconceptions. Curiosity is a gift because it awakens intelligence. When we ask why, we are alert to answers that may come, which helps us expand the parameters of our views on life. That is a silver lining, because we become happier when we are living in the expansiveness of who we are meant to be.

There is a possibility now to experience all life forms as really alive – no, not in the way we are alive, but in the unique way that they are alive. Did you know trees, as well as animals, have distinct ways of communicating with each other? The recent novel, The Overstory, by Richard Powers, portrays the wisdom of trees, and how crucial their community is to all life. That is why the destruction for profit of old growth forests is such a travesty.

Next time you are out taking a walk, open yourself to all that is around you. Listen; really look, and let yourself feel. Open your senses and your heart. When you eat, really taste your food as you give thanks for it, realizing what was given. It’s so simple really. All we have to do is respect all life forms. And while it’s not always easy to know how to respect their right to life (for example: ticks and mosquitos), on the whole, we can make a big difference. The key is caring; if we care, we might just step around that ant hill, instead of on it. In some ways, ants are a prime example we would do well to emulate, as with these tiny creatures we see an example of how a community cares for its fellow members, and how dedicated they are to the whole.

And then, just maybe, Nature might occasionally respond to you other than as the enemy, because your vibration has changed. When there is no more malice in us, sometimes the critters of the world will let us help them. In the above left pic, I was living in North Carolina. When I went to get my mail, I saw that a yellow swallowtail had been severely buffeted and knocked out by the wind from a passing car. I carefully lifted it, and brought the butterfly into the house to do some healing on it. When it revived, this beautiful being decided to explore its surroundings a bit – me, and perched on my cheek. Later, it decided to park itself on the crown of my head, and that is where this swallowtail spent the night, with me being careful not to turn over in my sleep. The next day I left it on a bush, and shortly thereafter, it flew away.

Years later, the Luna moth in the picture on the right stayed on my sweater for 48 hours after I rescued him (it was a male; you can tell by the furry antennae) from a Stone People’s Lodge fire in Pennsylvania put on by Grandfather Limping Snow Wolf. I went to a Pow-wow, and traveled through four states with this Luna moth, until after napping for a few hours at a rest area, my Luna friend finally began fluttering around the car trying to get out. I quickly left him on a bush on the West Virginia border.

I’ve had the honor of saving the life of a Great blue heron, a baby deer, some other mammals … and countless insects and spiders have been removed from my house to the great outdoors. So, the next time you mindlessly want to swat something, but catch yourself and alter your action, know that you have done something that makes a difference. It might seem like a small thing, but it means everything to their world. Size does not determine value, just as the difference between a weed and a flower is only a judgement.

If you become a person who cares, that crystallized stone you find on your walk might just give you a message as you lightly place it on your left palm. Or, a Grandmother tree may answer a question you are asking as you rest your back against her. Intimacy with Nature reminds us that we are Love, and our greater purpose is to act with love toward our fellow humans and to all beings. As the Pointer Sisters sing, “We are family.” If nothing else, living in these times has given us the opportunity to remember that, and have a do-over.

Here is the message to us all that I received from the Grand Designer of this beautiful Earth that we live on:

Does a mother love one of her children over the other? Does anyone think there is caprice in the perfection of how all the kingdoms of nature have been designed to interact with one another? Every aspect of life on this Earth has been created as a gift of Love. Know that beyond the clouds, pure Light with the power and might of a thousand suns is ultimately lifting all life on Earth into a higher order of being. You have the opportunity now to align with this Light for the benefit of all. Acts of caring affect everything, just as acts of malevolence or cruelty do as well. Erratic, violent weather patterns reflect this. It is my desire that you live in peace with all the kingdoms on Earth. Human free will choices have brought you to the state you now find yourselves in, and it is free will choice that must make changes to rectify the conditions on Earth. Open yourselves to active love, and caring. Healing beyond what we have known before is now possible on Beloved Earth. Will you choose to be part of that?

The Summer Solstice is Saturday, June 20th at 5:43 p.m.