And slowly, very slowly, it became clear to me what they were saying.
Said the river I am part of holiness.
And I too, said the stone. And I too, whispered the moss beneath the water.
[From “At the River Clarion” by Mary Oliver]
For a while the turtles kept crossing my path on my daily walks at Earthseed. Then came the snails. Both reminding me of a few important and relevant aspects of surviving this life:
1) Slow can be good, and sometimes slow is essential. Although we live in a society that would have us believe otherwise; a society that indoctrinates us into thinking that we are only as worthy as what we produce or achieve. We are conditioned to behave like a polar bear I once saw trying to survive captivity at the zoo. His fur turned gray and long, swimming in tight circles, over and over on the same path, because it was the only one available to him. Because the sensation of pushing through cold water, the feel of it against his fur, was the only thing that kept him connected to his wildness. I wonder if he stopped moving, what would he have to face? How long will it take to realize, this trauma, these wounds, those questions, would have to be dealt with inevitably?
2) Only our exoskeletons need to be hard and calloused. This world can often be cruel and hell bent on convincing us (People of the Global Majority) that we are disposable. Developing our shells and choosing to retreat into them as often as possible is part of our defense, and part of how we keep our tender-bright-hearts intact. And they are not the whole of who we are. We are so much more than our defenses. We eventually make the choice to emerge from our shells, to share a bit of who we are with others, to be vulnerable. We risk being wounded for the possibility and delight of real connection, of beloved community. As Audre Lorde says, “without community there is no liberation.”
3) Even the slimy creatures are holy. It’s so much easier to wax poetic about a gorgeous flower, or a baby bird than a snail–so moist and strange. In the human realm, it is often easier to discount, disregard and demonize fellow humans that disagree with us. Their ‘slime’ justifies our categorization of them as enemy. Enemies not worthy of our love or our vulnerability. We chose to retreat to our shells, or allow a part of our hearts to harden. The menacing questions for us to face are: when will we re-emerge? When will we allow our hearts to soften again? What are the real costs of hardening our hearts in this sometimes stone cold world?
Yet on their shell snails carry an emblem to garner our respect, and to remind us that they too are ‘part of holiness’. The fractal, with its precise mathematical equation, replicated on the micro and macro scale throughout the natural world, and even in the Milky Way galaxy that is home to our solar system. It is/they are here to remind us of the divinity that surrounds us, and the divinity within us. It is/they are here to remind us that it/we all belong/s.
[Photos and Story by Zulayka]