As sunlight floods the space occupied by Grandmother Oak and her fellows a pathway is illuminated. It leads me to hold death as I hold life, very lightly and full of wonder.
Since my last entry, Darryl brushed up against death and while it didn’t claim him this time, eventually it will, just as it will claim me. And Ranger.
It was to be a routine procedure, this colonoscopy, but it turned rapidly into crisis after a few hours at home. Sepsis had set in, and by the time shock set in we had fortunately made our way into the emergency room. Quick attention to his fluids, intravenous antibiotics and three days of hospitalization followed. At one point I remember invoking Grandmother Oak’s experience and simply holding Darryl. Ranger, when we were finally reunited, simply crawled up and laid his fine head on Darryl’s chest in welcome.
Ranger: “Wherever you have been, know that I am here to love and comfort you. Know that I understand your pathway has been hard. This time we have been able to reunite, and I am full of joy. Hold the joy we feel at being here together and cherish it as you cherish the light that builds a majestic cathedral as it plays with the oaks around Grandmother. We are meant to be together, to love Earth, to experience the sanctuary she provides for all living things around her. And we are also meant to love enough to let go of each other when that time comes.”
Grandmother Oak provides sanctuary for not just me, but many other species. Even when I am not with her she travels with me. We talk about the emotional mind from time to time, and how it must be blended with our reason in order to make the huge cultural ship we are on turn around. When I base my actions on emotion I am impulsive and do not much attend to the consequences of my actions. When I base my actions only on my intellect I use facts. So much of what we are discovering as we talk is that by using both we can impact climate change discussions. When we have the facts and become passionate about what to do with them we are grounded… and have the courage to change.
Ranger: “So…. tell me more about what that means for you right now.”
Me: “I’ve been on the road to understanding my own mothering and grandmothering. As you know, my mother was regarded as the perfect mother, but we don’t need to review that any more. I am not the mother she was. I juggled many balls to keep my little family afloat. I see my daughter juggle even more as she experiences even more demands on her time and her life.”
Ranger: “You were talking to Darryl yesterday and used the word ‘sanctuary’ to describe what your mother entered into with her mothering. That’s such an interesting word. Do you actually believe she made it that?”
Me: “Yes, I do. She created her sanctuary out of life’s necessity. She experienced the war, and poverty. She was marginalized by her husband and by society. It really was the only way she could bring her considerable gifts forward to the world. Her radical acceptance of her situation allowed her to rise above her life and earn her the term ‘saint’ and adoration by all. Problem with that is her model overwhelmed me, and certainly my emotional mind. I tried to be her under very different life circumstances. My radical acceptance of my marriage partner despite glaring issues regarding his sexuality, and of my career frustrations, probably nominated me for similar sainthood. But…. the interface of my mothering with my life, I now see, made motherhood (and then grandmotherhood) a sanctuary. She could do it, and got by with it. I can’t. I’m glad I can’t, because it means that antique notion wasn’t working any more.”
Ranger: “So…. what’s your point?”
Me: “I want to be more like the oak. My sanctuary is not built of stone or in the preaching of others. Nor will it be created out of necessity by life’s difficult circumstances. It will be in Earth, and in the wisdom provided by Earth.”
Ranger: “Here you are looking at the Golden Silk Spider with the fantastic web. It’s a wonderful morning and early enough so we aren’t panting from heat. So why do you look like you’re discouraged?”
Me: “I’m discouraged because much of this wonderful park may soon be turned into cow pasture by the State. Then what happens to the spiders and birds and all the other abundant wildlife here? When we visit here we see great wildlife diversity, we feel safe, we experience nature at it’s unblemished best. But our Governor sees this park as an ATM machine. It’s that same mentality he brings to bear hunting, which was approved last week over the objections of 75% of Floridians. Is it any wonder I feel discouraged?”
Ranger: “It’s no wonder, but I must say that you don’t serve the best interests of the world if you bring that feeling to your daily life. You should, if you respond to my therapy today, find the world a joyful and worthwhile place. Remember the doe and fawn you found here yesterday, just standing without fear and feeding. Then when you get home you need to fight like crazy to protest this possible change in the park’s uses. Who knows what will be the tipping point to convince decision makers that it’s wrong to commercialize everything.”
Me: “Okay, you’re keeping me centered and positive. I won’t even bring up the book I’m reading (“The Sixth Extinction”) because that’s a topic for another time indeed.