Roiling Soil and Cyclical Re-Turn – Honouring lives given and taken
As light lengthens days in the north and shortens them in the south, re-adjustments are underway, again. Everyone I know has made unexpected adaptations in the past months, and one for me has been “online” as an on-going and significant aspect of my life.
Zoom has profoundly surprised me. At some point last year, I began to envisage the frame of my screen as a loom; collective magic began to emerge from Zoom frames. Holding the unravelling individual threads of our lives, we wove something new; stretching out to each other across the miles we interlaced the weft through the warp. Back and forth between us, our reframed voices and faces became familiar in new ways, sweet rituals emerged, unique rhythms flowed and unexpected patterns materialised. I have come to cherish this new found online alchemy.
How can this be? I don’t know, but it is, and I’m grateful. Open to surprise and delight, in the company of wise and big hearted humans, we’ve been reliably taken to depth, following rich threads of conversation and enquiry on our Zoom looms adding unique gossamers from our fraying lives in these unravelling times.
In the collapse of pre-lockdown norms, I’ve spent increased time outdoors becoming more securely woven into my community of birds, trees, and herbs. Three recent experiences evidence this for me.
Firstly, a Kestrel plummeted across my face onto the body of a tiny mouse tucked in undergrowth on the verge of a path I regularly walk in the woods. The furled wing of the silent Kestrel brushed my nose tip. A friend commented that perhaps walking this path daily I’ve become so woven into the fabric of the woods, Kestrel paid me no mind.
Secondly, a friend sent me a poem, “Feeding the Worms” by Danusha Lameris. The verses drew me anew to the territory of endings, returning cycles and reciprocity. Worms, I learned, have taste buds all over the delicate pink strings of their bodies. It seems, writes the poet, “they bear a pleasure so sublime, so decadent, I want to contribute however I can, forgetting, a moment, my place on the menu.”
The third experience was an enchantment, a bewitching of sorts. Gazing in wonder at soil in little pots of seeds on my window sill, marvelling at the possibility of an emerging family of what could become beans, peas, tomatoes, squash and nasturtium; I experienced the soil “roiling”. The soil appeared heaving, as oceans can, as wombs can, and in the way water comes to the boil. The soil roiled with life just before there were visible seedlings.
The roiling soil transported me back to the worms, roiling soil at the end of life when what has been held, dear and familiar, is no longer visible and the worms do their work, and the Kestrel and the tiny mouse. There is both appetite for and pleasure in these miraculous unravellings and the increasingly embodied experience I have of where I come from, where I belong, and my own re-turning process.
Parts of me have already left along the way, and so much has ended for so many this past year. It’s felt called-for to pay attention to my capacity for honouring endings, of loss and letting go, of giving back and re-turning.
I’ve been telling the story of “The Well Maidens” each month at online gatherings at “The Well at The End of The World”. These are held within the DA Forum with wonder-full humans exploring the initiations we didn’t have along the way with respect to so much of what it is to be human and to be well. My friend and co-facilitator of these gatherings, Olivia Crooks, sent me this quote from Godfrey Devereux:
“Health is more than the ability to stay alive, or be without symptoms. It is to be alive with appreciation, compassion, generosity and solidarity. It is to be satisfied by sensitivity, openness, honesty, intimacy and generosity: to live without the need for continuous excitement and achievement.”
Lockdowns, for a fortunate few, have been opportunities to let go and live shielded from outer world demands for excitement and achievement and release more deeply into what’s truly “The Matter” in these times. “Matter” is from Latin materia (substance), and Mater, “Mother”. Soil.
Earth herself, and all life forms that have re-turned, gift me the unique weave I call “me”. I am being unravelled and re-woven in my own re-turning. I matter, you matter; we are the matter, the substance, as sensitive as the taste buds all over the delicate pink strings of the worm bodies, to the fabric of our shared matter.
It’s late to be unravelling the very old stitch up on our planet, but it isn’t too late to honour each unravelling thread, stretching out to each other interlacing the weft through the warp. Back and forth between us, and the trees, and the birds, the herbs and the oceans and mountains, our reframed voices and faces familiar in new ways, unique rhythms flow and unexpected patterns materialise. I cherish a new found alchemy birthed in the unravelling of these times.
As shifts continue, borders open and restrictions of lockdown lift, there’s pressure to “return” to ways from before the virus. That’s not the kind of “re-turn” I’ve been learning about. Remaining faithful to the re-turn of what really “matters” honours all the lives given and taken in so many ways, at so many levels, that there might be life ever after.
Sarah-Jane is a coach. She holds spaces and gatherings inviting humans off our well-worn paths and into potential resident in unexplored territory and perspectives. She works with myth and story. She is a volunteer facilitator for the Deep Adaptation Forum, and hosts ‘The Well at the End of the World’ every month (or thereabouts) for DA members. You can find upcoming dates, and other events, here.