The rich teeming soil, the unexpected thunderstorm, the single crow high in the gnarled pine, they all have something to tell you:
Unworthiness does not exist here in the matrix of the living world.
And yes, you are included in this paradigm of wholeness.
An earth-based model includes us in its understanding of intrinsic completeness; despite our fears, our imperfections, or our insecurities, despite all the ways we might try to keep ourselves separate and outside of its naturalness.
Here, there is no unworthy hawk, no unworthy wind, no unworthy earthworm. Actually, this word—unworthy—doesn’t even exist. In the model of the earth, we have a sacred place, as all creatures do.
There is no need to prove our value, no need to constantly judge, evaluate, or fit ourselves into some hierarchy of superiority. These terms speak absolutely no truth to who we really are.
We have been invited to be a part of the wider story of the world, one that is marked by deep non-judgment and equanimity.
We can ask the fox or the mother oak tree or the stars about what it means to belong without self-doubt or shame.
The fox will tell us about her hungry belly, her growing pups, her secret trails through the woods, but she will not lie to us. She may have fear, but she will not manipulate us. She may hide, but she has no power issues, no ego struggles, no insecurity in her being.
The fox reminds us through her presence that something this honest, feral, and beautiful lives in us too.
The mother oak will tell us to stop making things so damn complicated. Stand in our simple holiness. Trust in ourselves. Home runs deep in our heartwood. The mother oak, with her long thoughts, long breaths, long heart beats, invites us to experience an expanded sense of time: a quiet, impersonal resilience will see us through windstorms, deep freezes, outside invaders, and the morphing seasons of our lives.
The stars tell us to search for awe and enchantment everywhere. They are closer than we think. Every day, we may have to wade through a surge of soulless information. Every day, we may be overexposed to cynical narratives that seek to suck us free of delight and mystery.
The stars urge us to press on, purposely seeking out the things that make our cheeks pink, blood quick, body and spirit invigorated. They blink and pulse and remind us to put ourselves back in place with the wonder and immensity of it all.
We are unaccustomed to taking advice from nonhuman beings, even though we may come from long lines of Earth-honoring ancestry that regularly communicated with all of life.
We are out of practice really, since most of us were not raised to attune our psyche to the rest of the natural world.
But, it is with some regular effort that we can learn to see ourselves as one kind of being within a much wider realm of living kinship. Something powerful occurs when we reclaim and diversify our sense of relational intimacy; we return ourselves to a sense of belonging, not in the center of creation but embedded, intermeshed along with the ordinary genius of all things.
We no longer need to prove ourselves superior.
Let us rewrite the story of the world we have been given. When we shift our thinking from the human-centric cognitive ladder that we use to understand worth, intelligence, and usefulness, we free up space to see the value and beauty of everything. We keep healing our otherness when we recognize and legitimize that all beings have their own wisdom, communities, and languages.
Our continued human focus on utility and worthiness keeps us empty, malnourished from the web of aliveness, separate, and in scarcity within our minds and bodies.
We no longer need to treat ourselves this way, just as we don’t need to treat other living beings this way.
Instead of seeing ourselves through a broken lens of worthiness, let us continue to heal ourselves in belonging. Let us listen to the biophilic cravings in our hearts, reminding us that nature is necessary for our spiritual and psychological well-being. It is this craving that draws astronauts to listen to Earth’s sounds when they are floating around in the International Space Station hearing only the machine noises of pumps, fans, and metal moving.
Being away from nature causes our human bodies to harden, stiffen, and ache for the sounds of the ocean tides and the smell of rain coming.
This belonging is our birthright, as well as our responsibility. It will not be found in books or in Google searches but is discovered in the warmth of the first morning’s light, the hard elegance of the winter moon, and a myriad of other kinds of intentional connection.
In renegotiating our fractured relationship with the living world, we are also mending something deep within ourselves.
Let us surrender to this ancient memory that we are nature embodied in human form, essentially and inherently complete.
Published on Elephant Journal, December 23, 2020.
Edited by Elizabeth Brumfield.
Photo by Karen Cantu Q (Unsplash)