Touching Love in Unexpected places

By Patricia McBroom

Whirling Aspen Leaves

A bush spoke to me once a few years ago in a glorious grove of giant Sequoia trees. It was spring. I was walking along going nowhere with the sun filtering through the redwoods when I stopped and touched a bush. Without warning, love struck like a sword along with the name of my former partner. The feeling was so powerful, it almost bent me over and I was sure something had been transmitted to me from that bush — though the experience was completely in my own mind. I didn’t actually hear the bush speak.

I stood for long moments while behind me the wind ruffled the leaves of an aspen tree and I turned around to take a video. I wanted to preserve the moment which had been so powerful. Where did that feeling come from? How could I have been so overwhelmed by a feeling of love that was both particular and universal. Was this another reality that we humans only sense in special moments when our logical circuits are derailed by the beauty of the natural environment?

Suddenly my critical brain kicked in.

“You’re just having a “moment. It doesn’t mean a thing. Of course, you’d like to believe the message came from a larger world of spiritual aliveness, but there isn’t a bit of evidence for that. It’s all in your mind.”

My doubting intellect seems to occupy most of the space in my head, most of the time. It isn’t the best companion in the middle of the night. But this day it didn’t have the stage very long. I was mesmerized by the dancing aspen leaves as they flipped and whirled in the breeze, and I continued to wonder about the feeling of love that had filled my body.

I thought about flocks of birds that do an incredible dance in the sky against a setting sun. And the crowns of towering trees that nurture an entirely novel biosphere which does not exist on the ground. And the vibrations that come from Castleton Tower in Utah which have been recorded and turned into sound by Utah geologist Jeff Moore, only to discover that they move to the same rhythm as the blood in our veins.

“The earth has a pulse. Castlerock is alive,” said conservationist Terry Tempest Williams at a recent Bioneers conference. The earth has a heartbeat, as do we. “There is no separation.”

“No separation. HA! What about all the pain, terror, brutality and division of one human group against another? What can you say about the earth that produced dinosaurs and then wiped them out, leading to the evolution of brainy creatures like humans that have built a completely artificial environment that is destroying natural systems? THIS is a spiritual phenomenon? This is connection?”

My critical brain was gaining speed as it accelerated through a list of complaints, founded on scientific knowledge that reduces human life to atoms and molecules. Yes, the atoms and molecules survive, feeding new generations of plant and animal life. So we are connected at the molecular level. But what about me? What do I care if my fingernail feeds a snail?

I was getting more depressed as my brain pumped out new reasons to think the sense of love I felt from touching the growing end of a bush on my path meant nothing more than a couple of neurons enjoying spring weather. I leaned against the massive trunk of a giant redwood (which, by the way, lives for thousands of years with no known cause of death). As I rested against its soft fibrous surface, another voice surfaced in my head.

It arose from my body and spoke of knowledge that comes from circuits deep beneath the verbal brain

“I have nurtured you for years and although you don’t always recognize my power, I guide your awareness. I care for you. My roots are deep within the earth.

“How deep, you ask? That is unknown. Anyway, what does it matter? Listen to me. I am the self that arises during meditation. I am the one who writes this prose (unless you happen to be creating citations and then I zone out). I have been with you since the beginning and maybe even before that, in your ancestor’s dreams. I give you energy, optimism, hope and pain — which leads to new beginnings. I have my faults, no question. Bad stomach, arthritis, I could go on, but let’s not focus on such defects. It’s my awareness that counts, the awareness that senses love in the earth and in another human being. I am the consciousness that creates an entire universe within your brain that is unique and special to you. I will die with you, no doubt, but in the meantime, it’s spring.

Let’s dance!

Patricia McBroom

Dance of the Deities: Searching for Our Once and Future Egalitarian Society, combines memoir and anthropology, taking the reader on a journey to 10,000 BCE.