Gaze of the Wild

Seal PupMargy and I went to Crescent Beach late yesterday afternoon.  As we were leaving, a harbor seal pup came onto the shore.  What is it about our species that we so love these encounters with other species, with wild species?  Is it the kinship we feel when we look into their eyes gazing back at us?  Or the otherness we feel, the differences magical and intriguing?

It was our first time this season going into the open water.  So cold!  But after some time in the water, it was delicious.  The ocean itself would have been enough yesterday–the way it transformed my body chemistry into a greater sense of ease and well-being.  And then, sitting in the sun warming up on the sand.  Since I have had thyroid disease, it has been harder for me to warm up after swimming, but this time I wore a light hoody, and the air was still warm at 6 p.m. so I was fine.  Later, I changed back into dry clothes and sat and read, while Margy went in for another swim.

I had carried some of our stuff to the car about 7:30 p.m. when the seal pup first arrived. As I met Margy heading into the changing room, she told me about it, so I went back to down to the beach.  The little group of twenty or so people who were still on the beach were gathered near the pup at a respectful distance.  Someone had called the proper wildlife people to let them know.  The pup just lay there looking at everyone, calmly, perhaps resting, perhaps wondering what to do.

Seal Pup turns to go back in the waterAfter several minutes, they turned around and started heading back toward the water, moving slowly and steadily over the sand.  As the pup reached the waves, they turned as if to say goodbye, (or maybe, “I don’t think this was where I meant to land”) and then slid right in and swam away down the beach.

Who can resist those eyes? Seal Pup-one last look

 

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In the tree I am held by God

Beech Tree Leaves 133650004There was one more communication I experienced with the four directions tree which was not about writing or speaking or even thinking. Sometimes I merely sat, my body balanced between the sturdiness of the main branches, my eyes resting in the translucent green softening the sunlight.

Even then, the tree and I were involved in a sacred exchange. When I breathed, the tree was my intimate partner. The tree breathed out the oxygen that I needed to be alive, and I breathed out the carbon dioxide that it used for nourishment. Our physical bodies are designed to need each other. We give and receive the very substance of our lives. We have been giving and receiving this way for millennia.

We and the trees are neighbors on this planet, but more than that, we are sacred partners, we are kin. We are genetically and spiritually related to each other. If we are open to respecting the trees, if we value the inherent worth and dignity of the trees, it then becomes possible for us to experience in the trees the presence of the divine Mystery.

Breathing and writing, dreaming and remembering, in the sacred arms of the beech tree, I knew I what it felt like to be held by God and to be one with God. The trees teach us that all of us are related; their quiet language sings the song of the marvelous interweaving unity of life on Earth. Remember this, the next time you walk by the trees near where you live. Listen. And then remember to say thanks.