I am up extra early today, on the Summer Solstice, not wanting to miss a second of the many light-filled minutes ahead. The sky, in a mercy of gentleness, offers a cover of soft white. But we know where the sun is; we can’t be fooled.
The birds sing. The trees are fully fluffed with foliage. The hills sprout sprays of colorful wildflowers; there is new growth everywhere. My heart is broken open with love for the world. I pay attention. I quiet my mind, and listen to the birds. I smell the damp green air. I feel the soft living soil under my feet.
In her stunning book “Braiding Sweetgrass”, Robin Wall Kimmerer says:
“Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligences other than our own. Listening, standing witness, creates an openness to the world in which the boundaries between us can dissolve in a raindrop.”*
Today is a day of light, length, and love. It is rare, and yet it is just like all other days. It is an invitation to bear witness to the earth’s beauty. To remember.
I listen into the distance, as W.A. Mathieu suggests:
“Listening into the distance is like looking into the horizon. When we listen into the distance, our ears reach beyond the farthest sounds, and the infinite becomes sensible. We get a fix on our position in the boundless world.
“Go out of your way, if you have to , to look steady and long at the place where the earth and sky meet. Likewise, discover places where your ears can soar out to the edge of audibility. Find a lull in the evening, a valley, a distant remove, a quiet dawn, and listen into that boundary. You can disappear beyond it into where you really live.”**
Isn’t this the truth about life? The boundaries between us and all living things are really very thin. With our willingness and receptivity, they can fall away altogether. It’s worth the effort to go “out of our way” to find the moments and places where we can disappear into that truth of being. To remember the wide joys found in hearing a distant waterfall, a quiet little birdsong, or the silence between trees. When we listen this far and this deep, we drop into that synchronicity of life beyond our own skin. We remember where we live.
And we fall in love with the world all over again.
*Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. (Milkweed Editions, 2013)
**The Listening Book: Discovering Your Own Music by W. A, Mathieu. (Shambhala, 2011)