It must be the first day of hunting season. I’m sitting in my kitchen, drinking my morning coffee and I hear a gun shot – one very loud one. The hunting kind. Not the sort of “I got a new gun and I’m tryin’ her out” kind of shots we occasionally hear. One single shot. I wonder if it was our neighbor, Sam. I wonder if he got a deer. He aims for one per season – enough to fill his freezer and kindly spare a couple of pounds of meat for his neighbors, including us.
Teddy, our Great Pyr, is lying on the kitchen floor when the shot breaks the steady sound of morning crickets and cicadas. He should be outside with the chickens and cows, but instead he lays on the cool, wood floor inside. He has the biology of a guardian dog, but came to us before we had the workings of a farm, so we are his flock – his human livestock. The shot is enough to wake him and he runs to the door, barking his baritone that is enough to travel the back woods. I open the door and off he goes, at a pace that surprises me he was asleep only moments before.
We didn’t hear gun shots when we lived in town. We moved here and plenty changed, yet we still have traces of life in town inside of us. I heard a woman say, regarding a man close to me, “he has one foot in heaven and one on Earth.” I’d never heard anything that sounded so true. A life divided. Life on a farm, slightly removed from town but close enough to see the new, made-for-the-masses line of couture at Target. One moment, I am barefoot in the garden or gutting a chicken, the next I am typing on my laptop. These two lives can work together, it’s just trying to decide how the percentages split.
The humans on this farm, split between caring for the land and growing food and a grocery store that has it all waiting for us. Our dogs, biologically-wired to protect others outside, yet have known the comfort of a cool floor indoors. Our lives in this modern society, in the part of the world I live, are easy. Boxes delivered to our front door the next day. Groceries bagged and ready when we get to the market. I sometimes wonder what life was like to have the responsibility of survival on one’s shoulders – to not have the choice of either growing my own food or driving to the large building to buy it.
I do know this – the days when I do the work are the days I feel best. The mornings I get out of bed when it is still dark, my stomach muscles doing their best to convince me that I do not need to sit up from underneath the covers. And yet, I somehow gather the courage each morning to ignore them, to put my feet on the ground, to go outside to feed and water the sheep. Joe takes care of the chickens. The cool air in our lungs. The sun making its purple/red appearance over the tree line. My mind wants to talk me out of this each morning, but once I am outside, a feeling of resilience rises. The feeling that we are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for and that sometimes the inventions of man are more than we need.
She rides closely to the back of the car and an angry face in the rearview mirror.
He comes downstairs in the morning and is curt and short.
She is angry that service is slow.
The instinct to push back comes first. Give back what is given to you. An angry gesture back to the driver, a curt and short reaction, an impatient response.
What if they were met with love instead?
What if instead of increasing the flame, it was diffused?
What if pain was met with love and patience, instead of ego versus ego? Who is right and who is wrong and who is being treated unfairly and behaving in ways that disrespect who I am.
What if we let all of that go? It is a burden too heavy to carry.
What if we met the pain that exists in the world with breath? With patience and kindness and an attempt at understanding. What if that was our default instead?
It is not easy. It takes practice and patience and a letting-go of what our mind wants.
Picture someone. A person who has caused pain. A person who holds anger. A person you encountered in the past week that met you with hostility. Close your eyes. Hold that person in your mind’s eye. Now send them love. Say it out loud if you can: “I love you.” Feel your breath. Feel your heart beat. Feel the love you are producing for them and for yourself. A shift. A release in any anger or resentment you may feel and an energy of love being sent to them. A new lightness in the place of a heaviness you were not meant to carry.
When we meet others with love in their hostility, it cannot help but to diffuse the flame of anger and lighten the burden of ‘being right’ and ‘being respected’.
We are all made of the same cells, same earth, same energy. As we send love to others, we cannot help but to be filled with that same love in return – and our Earth can begin to shift to one of peace and love, where there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, just us together in this collective experience of life.
There are times when my mind is busied, distracted with a mundane task it knows well but still occupies its time (driving, gardening, polishing metal), that another voice inside would speak up. What voice is this? Soul, spirit, the unconscious, angels, a muse? What I do know is it is a voice of counsel, of reassurance – one that seems to be smarter than the everyday mind of problem-solving. It knows there are no real problems. Sometimes I would feel it speaking up, and find a piece of paper to write it down – wanting to remember the wisdom it had to say. The above is one such instance.
We all have this voice. I have it no more than anyone else. No one has it more than another and it can be more easily heard when we stop distracting ourselves with information and breathe instead. Have a moment at a stop light, breathe. Waiting for the water to boil, breathe. Have a thought that makes you uncomfortable and feel the pull to pick up your phone, breathe. Breathe into the silence and the voice inside, wherever it comes from, will begin to grow clearer. And your own innate wisdom will come through with a resounding and clear voice to guide you on your path.