On Being Spiritually Homeless

Ranger and I are at home here and in Earth. No longer spiritually homeless.
Ranger and I are at home here and in Earth. No longer spiritually homeless.

One of my favorite shirts is a hand-me-down from Darryl. On the front it has Arabic, Hebrew and English words for “Peace.”  That’s it. Nothing else.

I was buying avocados at the farmer’s market this morning. An older crone like myself, a majestic woman, came up and said, “That’s a great shirt. But peace is only a dream.”

I hope she is wrong.

Ranger and I have talked about this the rest of the day. I cannot go back to thinking despairing thoughts. Peace is more than a dream, isn’t it?

Ranger: “What you’re doing today is pretty much an effort for peace, right? We’ve been in the back yard for the last hour rescuing volunteer native plants from under the other plants already there, and placing them so they have their own space to breathe. You’re sweating and there is dirt under your fingernails. We’ve already come around a corner toward optimism in our lives, and I hope during this session you are able to maintain that. Are you increasingly at peace, and with your place in the world?”

Me: “I feel that way. Certainly today. The bad news in the world continues to pour in, and when I read about Florida politics I am sickened with the stories of confrontations that seem warlike. But personally I’m at a good place.”

Ranger: “So why did you want to talk about spiritual homelessness?”

Me: “It seems the perfect term for the place I was. I was spending all of my time running around being a good mother and a good person and a good citizen. But much of my own soul foundered. I felt homeless inside. I stood on the street corner for months on end protesting the war in Iraq, and would walk back to my house with tears streaming down my face from the effort and despair I felt, both personally and collectively. I am so grateful for knowing you and Darryl and for the home we have found together.  Now I can be happy as well as responsible. I am at home. ”

Ranger: “Well, let me assure you, as a rescue dog who was within a whisker of being put down, I feel the same way. One guy kicked me and broke several ribs. Other dogs were allowed to mangle me….. But that is in the past. Talk to me a bit more about this new place regarding spirituality, and what that has to do with peace. That has to be a bit more than it appears, and I’m interested to learn. Imagine that, the therapist asking for understanding from the client.”

Me: “Well, as you know, I’m on a spiritual journey leading me towards Earth. Earth is our Mother. She sustains us and allows us to enjoy her wonders. My prayer (and we’ve talked about prayer before, so you know my thoughts on that) these days is for every thought, word and deed that comes from me to sustain and celebrate Earth as well as ourselves. The more I practice this every day the more centered and whole I feel. So peace is personal and it’s also collective. I am at home in my body, at home in my relationships, and at home in Earth. And right now I want to go back into the yard and just sit and admire the trees.”

Ranger:  “So you are feeling more at home here with me, with Darryl, and finally with Earth. Just don’t forget that my water dish needs refilling.”

We Talk About the “Great Turning”

Ranger has helped me come around a corner of despair.
Ranger has helped me come around a corner of despair.

Our therapy sessions lately have been hard. I am in despair about the future of Earth, and about how poorly the human population cares for this marvelous planet. “Business as Usual” is all around us: too much consumption, a focus on material wealth, denial of the impact each of us has on our environment. Ranger has been leading me into a more balanced view the last couple of days, however. He reminds me that we are not alone in our concerns. While it may not be a “Great Turning” of our culture yet, there are signs of hope as more people join the dialogue. Ranger and I have agreed that we must be diligent about managing our own lives more carefully and connect with others who are doing the same…. It’s really all we can do.

We will knock our shins against these resolves, simple though they may be. We will experience moments of being weak in the knees, when people look at us as if we’ve lost our sanity. But these are for us, and they amount to what we can do this week to satisfy the need to feel we are part of the Great Turning:

First, we agree that ecological intelligence is as important as any other kind. To understand, and act upon, the knowledge that our wellbeing depends on the wellbeing of Earth is as important as any other kind of intelligence, such as emotional, logical, musical or interpersonal. To that end the two of us agree that this week we will hear the sounds of Earth crying. We will practice being grateful for all plant and animal life. We will sit quietly whenever we can to meditate on this truth.

Second, we will use pronouns for the trees and plants of Earth. Trees of all kinds, and all plants. We will practice this and see how it sounds. I tell Darryl, “The Florida maple tree in our yard is leafing out. She appears healthy.”  “The milkweed is attracting monarchs now that he is blooming.”  Corny maybe, but it grounds us in our determination to see the value of all life. We recognize the role all plants play in absorbing carbon dioxide and then producing oxygen.

Third, we vow to “re-source” our souls and bodies. The source of all our lives is Earth, and this week we’re “re-sourcing” ourselves. We will walk more gently upon Her, be aware of how lightly or heavily we tread, look for ways to honor Her.

The Great Turning is a spiritual journey for us both.