“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Monday, September 08, 2014

Creatures of...love?

We are creatures, creatures of love
We are creatures, creatures of love
From the sleep of reason, a life is born
We are creatures, creatures of love
-Talking Heads


Walking to yoga I tend to keep my eyes aimed toward the ground, on the look-out for uneven sidewalk, fallen branches, and other potential trip hazards. Of course I am also looking around me, aware of bicyclists, other walkers, and four legged and winged creatures who inhabit the woods that border the sidewalk. The smell of the river, buried in the woods, but visible in places along the way, is usually potent. It’s a river under going significant cleaning from waste that has polluted it. Lately, however, the river does not smell, it must be the overabundance of rain water and fast moving current, keeping it clean?

Inevitably as I walk with my gaze toward the ground I see crawling creatures, and at least this summer, a ton of hopping tiny frogs. So many frogs on the sidewalk, in our backyard and in the garden that I’ve been on the look out for Moses and Pharaoh. The potential for a plague is not that far-fetched. 

Honestly, it seems like all the world is going to hell in a hand-basket. I live with a perpetual sense of existential despair, fueled by the state of the world and probably a little bit of God stirring up some kind of transformation within me. Really, God, now? You have my attention and I am listening, wondering how all of this is going to be transformed, like Israel after the Exodus. Forty years in the wilderness? I hope not. 

So I do my small part to ease the angst of creation. It’s weird what I do and I’m sure people driving by must find me a little nutty. Here’s the thing, I see a lot of crawly things on the sidewalk. Many of them are dried up and long gone. But some of them are struggling across the concrete, literally drying out from friction, no moisture, and hot sun. It bugs me, no pun intended, to just walk by a creature who, in its own way, may be suffering. So, when I see a still living crawly creature on the sidewalk, usually a worm, I pick it up with a stick and toss it back into the deep, moist, shady grass. 

I remember reading an article about a group of Buddhist monks who were building something and some of them were dedicated to removing worms from the digging process so none would be hurt. I don’t know if it’s true, that the monks did this. Maybe it was a joke. But it struck me, that our attention to life can include the smallest of creatures. Somehow that idea has stayed with me and over the years I’ve found myself unable to just walk past a worm that is struggling across the sidewalk, I always toss it back into the grass.

This year I’ve seen, and helped more than worms. (To the degree that I have a serious ear-worm in my head: “Little creatures all come out! We are creatures, creatures of love.”). One day I saw a very long slug, head up and antennae high, slinking its way down the sidewalk, headed to a sure and certain demise. No way was I going to pick that thing up. But I did find a good long stick that I used to pick it up and fling it into the grass. Another day I saw a tiny snake, so small it could have been a very long worm. I wasn’t about to pick that up, either, not being certain what kind of snake it was. Now, I am not afraid of snakes. But I am cautious. Poisonous baby snakes are more toxic than the adults. I found myself tapping my water bottle on the sidewalk near the snake which encouraged it to move along in a certain direction until it was once again in the grass and headed into the woods.

Obviously I am a little odd in this regard. I suspect that people who knew me in high school and college may not be surprised at this behavior. However, I am not always this considerate of human beings. Some people just stand on my last nerve and all consideration is blown away by that part of me that is made up of spit and vinegar. Which is, as I wrote recently, one of the reasons I walk, to have some time to examine what stirs up that side of me, before I react.

Tomorrow I start my spiritual direction internship. I will spend the next two years examining my interior prayer life, my relationship and conversation with God and how to journey with others who wish to do the same. I will spend time pondering more deeply the parts of me that are compassionate and the parts of me that get all knee-jerky and reactive. Add to this the upcoming nine sessions, three this fall and six next spring, where I will study my family systems: family of origin, family I have created with my husband, and the church family I work in, and consider all the ways these systems influence my compassionate side and my knee-jerky side. 

No doubt God is stirring stuff up inside of me. I better get my glasses and my walking shoes and hone my observation skills for the journey ahead.

It's okay to be afraid
When the blue sparks hit your brain
We can love one another
I've been told that it's okay

Doctor, doctor, tell me what I am
Am I one of those human beings
Well I can laugh or I can learn to think
So help me now to find out what I feel

We are creatures, creatures of love
We are creatures, creatures of love
We've been here forever, before you were born
We are creatures of love, We are creatures of love

- Talking Heads (Writer(s): Tina Weymouth, Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz, David Byrne

Copyright: Index Music Inc., WB Music Corp.

1 comment:

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

well now I rescued a praying mantis just the other day! kudos on your spiritual direction internship... lots of hard interior work ahead, but it sounds like you're ready!