How to love this world? The power of our gifts in times of crises


A white woman's hand cup the hand of a toddler who is holding a bug. There are autumn leaves in the background

I sit on the sofa holding her little hand watching TV. Her hot little body snuggled into my own. I shower her with kisses and hug her tighter.

“Get off me, Mummy”, she says pushing me away. And in this moment, I am filled with gratitude to have this warm, cross, animal-child alive, next to me and able to shove me away.

I don't have any answers. Any political ones, at least. My family lived through the horrendous violence of fascism and the insidious violence of communism. Neither work. Political analysis is not where my strength lies.

Similarly, I find shouting at protests difficult (I wonder if the discomfort is an ancestral memory of enforced political rallies reverberating through my body?) Protesting in streets is not where my strength lies.

My strength lies less in these heated spaces - akin to being under the midday sun - and more in the quiet, powerful, hidden, half known, inbetween spaces – the expanding and shrinking of mycorrhizal networks in the soil, the weaving of an entangled nest in the leafy hedgerow, the unfurling of seeds in the damp, musty grasses of the meadow.

I find in these spaces a powerful mystery, a strange otherworld that suggests new ways of being and living. Of quiet, patient love. And this is what I feel I can offer: Love for myself, love for humanity, and love for the more-than-human. A love that I hope will flow out around me, through my atoms into yours, into the earth and down the generations.

Despite everything, I believe in humanity. Ultimately, we are all seeking love and belonging and community. And as we remember that we are nature and part of everything around us, I believe we change how we act – towards each other and the more-than-human world.

So I shall keep wandering the fields and sharing the joy of wildflowers and insects because as Mary Oliver says in her poem The Summer Day:

 
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?


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