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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Returning To the Present Moment

Our search for greener housing has brought me an intense focus on a worthy project and a burning desire to bring it to completion. But one of the side effects of this project has been that I easily lose track of my attention to this present moment. It is as if I am hovering between the present and the future, and my feet can’t find the ground.

I took a walk this morning in my neighborhood. A short way down the road, I found a frog that had been killed by a passing car. As I moved its body into the grass, I was reminded that we never know when we will meet our own end. It won’t wait for us to finish all our projects. This moment is all that we have for sure. How can I live in this moment, even when I am involved in working on a goal?

One of the best ways I know to return to the present moment is to enter through the door of gratitude. I am grateful for the full moon that was golden in the trees as it was rising last night. I am grateful for cuddling with my love after watching a movie together on the couch. I am grateful for diving into the ocean yesterday after time setting up rain barrels at a Permablitz in South Portland. I am grateful for people who care about the earth and each other enough to gather together to help new friends fulfill a permaculture design for their garden.

I am grateful for local sausage fried with green kale at breakfast. I am grateful for the sun shining through the clouds during my walk. I am grateful for the turkey who crossed the road in front of me. I am grateful for the chirping of the chipmunk who greeted me on my return, and then hid in the rain downspout extension. I am grateful for one more day to be alive in this beautiful earth.Chipmunk DSC00392

Emptying Into Wholeness

My journey into emptiness brought me four kinds of emptying: first, to clear away some outside clutter of unfinished projects; second, to let go of the inner residue of unresolved emotions; third, to let go of habits of character, tools of maneuvering that kept me from merely being with myself and others; and fourth, to let go of the roles I occupy.

Perhaps by numbering these steps, I give a wrong impression that the journey was linear or planned out. As I looked back over my journal writings, I found a winding and twisting path, with bits and pieces of each of these interspersed with the others.

Thomas Merton writes in one of his journals:
“In order to arrive at what I cannot understand, I must go by way of that which I cannot understand.”
 

I started out on the journey with a hunger. I did not plan the four kinds of letting go. Rather, I encountered them in the pathway, as I meandered down the road, led by my hunger to find the heart of my own soul. If you took a journey into your emptiness, it might be completely different. But perhaps, by my sharing, you might recognize a few turns along the path.

The journey into emptiness led me into a sense of wholeness, a sense of being with and in my complete self. A sense of openness and relationship to larger being. I didn’t stay there. I got busy with work again. But I learned that I need that periodic emptying in order to be happy in my life, and to be happy in my work. That emptiness is the source of creativity and insight and serenity. That emptiness is the place from which to experience Mystery.

Open Water Crosby MJ DSC05331