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Earth as Sacred

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Some Non-Natives (to this place) see The Earth as Sacred, too
December 6, 2016
from patty (fern) love

Dear Neighbors,

One of the beautiful testaments that has emerged from the DAPL movement is the reminder that many humans see The Earth as Sacred.  In this case it was Native Peoples protecting the water and their ancestral lands.  Most of us are not native to the places where we now live.  My own roots go back to the places in what is now called Western Europe – Ireland, England, Germany, and Poland perhaps.  Still, places where Natives were long ago deeply rooted to the land – once foraging wild food, gathering mushrooms and harvesting medicinal plants along with hunting for animal food and furs. Many spiritual traditions from those places saw all life on Earth as Sacred, too.  There was no other way to live and it made sense to revere and lovingly steward that which kept them alive.  Those urgings run through our blood and sleep in our brains today.

To provide some context, I grew up in a rural family, not overtly spiritually connected with The Earth, yet still relying heavily on what we grew in our garden, nuts foraged from neighboring trees, and fish, pheasants, turkeys, and deer hunted and brought to our table by my father.  Other hunting harvests that our own family had the luxury of refusing to eat – rabbits, raccoons, carp, and the occasional snapping turtle that hazarded through our yard or into the road – were passed on to family and co-workers who would utilize them as food.  My siblings and I all worked with our parents in the garden, sometimes also with our grandmother and great-grandmother to preserve the bounty.  We all learned to fish and shoot and, to the extent our squeamishness allowed, helped clean and gut the fish and animals harvested.  The boys also hunted.  I was happy to fish some and grow and harvest food plants and a few flowers just for fun and beauty.

Though I don’t remember my age at the time, I vividly remember the day I learned that Native Peoples believed that everything had a Spirit, even the rocks.  Lying in bed thinking about that when I was maybe 9 or 10 awoke something in me.  It deeply resonated with and awoke some inner truth that everything on The Earth is connected and necessary and Sacred.  I began to learn about Native cultures, devouring stories and facts about people who were native to their place, who derived their existence from a balanced relationship with the bounty of nature that surrounded them, and who knew that they were not separate from nature – Native American leaders, witches and pagans, among others.

As a teen during the 70s, I became interested in environmental stewardship – eschewing gold jewelry and other trappings of our shag carpet culture and embracing the concept of the “back to the land” movement as best I could learn about it.  I would most definitely have followed in the footsteps of what my dad called “the hippies” had he, who ruled with a heavy hand, not reviled them.  Still, I fought and did what I could to learn and live more in harmony with The Earth – not as easy pre-internet in a very small and poor community, with only a school library until the Mabel D. Blodgett Memorial Library was built, and where the nearest city (Canandaigua) was farther than I was allowed to travel by bike.

Now I live in West Brighton, a very special place that looks quite green when viewed from an aerial map.  I am surrounded by 275 acres of woods, a County owned golf course, Genesee Valley Park, and Red Creek.  This neighborhood, and especially my property, is still quite subject to the whims of nature.  We experience flooding typical of a floodplain but mitigated by Mount Morris Dam.  In a place where hunting is not allowed and habitat is abundant, deer forage wild foods and neighbors’ hostas.  Fox, beaver, raccoons, possum, skunks, duck and geese, fish and snapping turtles all pass through the acre that I steward.  On a quiet moonlit night, coyotes call from somewhere not too far away.  It is a blessing to live here within so much natural beauty and biodiversity.

And it is a challenge to live here.  Not all battles for the right to lovingly steward The Earth happen in faraway places.  The ways that I am stewarding my land, with love and care and reverence for The Earth and all life upon it are not in harmony with what many neighbors value, nor what my town has coded as allowable.  To walk my talk and live my commitment to my values, I often have to do things in a way that is not the best care for The Earth but is within the bounds of “one size fits all” town codes.  Hours of effort I have invested talking with town officials individually and at meetings to educate them about the important work I’m trying to do on my own land, ask for variances where code and loving stewardship differ, and to even help draft new code have all been dismissed by elected officials and staff whose salary I help fund yet whose minds are closed to my attempts to reclaim Earth-friendlier suburban land stewardship practices.  Practices based in my current understanding of Native practices.  Supporting larger public projects such as the Monroe Avenue Corridor, a step in the right direction, a mile or so down the road from a step in the wrong direction (new Whole Foods store), are acceptable yet a smaller version in my own yard that is even richer in environmental stewardship practices is not.

And a handful of neighbors are equally as difficult to cooperate with or work around.  Twice in 5 years, different neighbors have called the town before even knocking on my door or catching me at the mailbox to share their concerns with me.  The first time, a neighbor was upset because I cut the tops off a handful of languishing spruce trees to plant a food forest garden and put up a fence to protect my $2500 worth of dozens of young food producing trees, shrubs, vines, and herbs from the notorious deer who have lots of other food options.  I ended up reallocating some of my precious single mother and household income provider hours to collect petition signatures to support my variance request (got 32) and attend three Zoning Board meetings to seek a variance where I finally learned which neighbor was unhappy and met the 5 more he had gathered to protest.  (Guess who still didn’t get the variance!)  The second time, another neighbor complained to the town about a couple of large pine branches I had collected from a neighbor’s roadside “yard waste” pickup to temporarily hold down some cardboard I was using to suppress weed growth around a young living fence.  I admit it looked a little ugly in that 10 square feet or so of the corner adjacent to her lot but in the terrible heat of the summer, I was waiting for a cooler day to finish the project.  Instead of a simple call from my neighbor, the very apologetic town official visited and offered an end of the month deadline to comply with the code and I stressed my body working in 90 plus degree heat.  Later, I learned indirectly that one of the reasons she called the town to complain was that her other adjacent neighbor was cutting an overhanging tree from her yard without her permission (legit complaint) about the same time she witnessed and misunderstood my friendly conversation with her “lawn care” guy as I pointed out the property line so that he wouldn’t mistakenly also apply his chemicals to my property.  In both cases, simple human to human conversations would have saved hours, and stress, and maybe even created positive relationships.  Plus the town’s limited staff could be freed up to deal with real problems.

So back to the point, which is not to complain about my town officials or my neighbors.  My point is this – many people hold in their hearts a deep feeling that The Earth and everything on it is Sacred.  We won’t look like the Lakotas who are protecting their water source or the Haudenosaunee who once lived in this place – the lands surrounding what is now called Rochester.  But you can still recognize us if you’re willing to really look.  We are those whose lawns are filled with dandelions, plantain, wood sorrel, and clover – foods for us and the honey bees.  We are the neighbors who share our garden abundance with you, help your children or grandchildren choose a warm egg from our chicken coop, and lend you hand tools.  We are the neighbor who will help you set up a rain barrel, share plants to help you start your own garden, and take the leaves from your lawn to fill our compost bins or teach you how to compost.  And, we who see the Sacredness of all of Creation see you as Sacred, too.  So we are here to help and nurture and comfort you when you are in need.

Reach out and make a friend with your weird neighbor who prefers to grow dandelions over grass, who keeps chickens instead of a dog, or who composts instead of putting food and yard waste out as trash.  You might learn something useful and you might make a new and interesting friend.

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A Little Something More

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Tears rained down 50 year old cheeks
Four more years – she’d be counting the weeks
‘Til she’d be free for what every woman seeks –
Warm and cherishing love – a little something more.

patty fern love – Copyright 2011

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Family of Love

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

i am thankful to have two families –
one who gives me Love,
the other who gave me life

i recognize them by their faces when they greet me –
Love’s reflection shines in the eyes and smiles of one as they warmly initiate or return my hug beckoning me closer,
pain’s darkness meets me in the faces of the others repelling us like magnets of the same pole as we each stay on our safer side of fear’s fence

i carry the energy of each inside me –
the boundless Love that shines brighter each day and sweeps me toward my passions, self-care, and allows me to complete my mission as a dispenser of unconditional Love,
the dark dusty corners of my youth when i forget who I am or take an unintentional wrong turn and lose my way from Light

sometimes I am confused temporarily –
wolves disguised as sheep seek the warmth of my heart and my Love welcomes the sheep closer until the wolf’s rank odor penetrates my awareness and I awaken to the darkness lurking beneath the sheep’s false shell,
sometimes my own darkness recognizes its reflection too quickly in another and my fear of being swallowed in the black hole of pain causes me to run without seeing the greater Love that lives in that sould too

i am grateful for each –
those who give Love allow me to see the darkness of broken places and bring Light and gently healing to them,
those who bring darkness help me see where i’ve been and invite me to find my own Light and stand in it bravely and firmly

thank you for these opportunities

i love you all

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At The Core

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Underneath the waves of disturbance,
In the storm-rocked seas
Live my deeper feelings,
That bring me to my knees.
One is the Love of The Earth
and all the beings there.
Two is the blue-eyed son
with the dark and curly hair.
Three is my beloved
who is I know not where.

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Peace

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Breathing down deeply within the spaces of my heart,
Distractions fall away and offer a new start.
I find that I am full, within this empty space.
Love is all there is. Peaceful smile illuminates my face.

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The Sixth of October

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

“Hey there,” she called unsurely to the sitting man reading a book.
He, taller than she remembered, smiled with a happy, friendly look.
He rose from the table and greeted her more warmly than most she known. Then,
they began their journey together, along a path to a place she had not been.

“I presume we’ll be good friends,” seemed to be the first thing he said.
Surprised by his certain declaration, those words still linger in her head.
“Dismount” read the sign and they shared an awkward first chuckle,
She could feel it then, unexpected, as her knees began to buckle.

As he thoughtfully suggested, she had worn her walking shoes.
She listened while he shared, laid himself bare, and, with humor, amused.
His kindness, his warmth, his earnest quest to inspire
all shown brightly, precious life not to pass lightly, well-being his desire.

In the warm sun, with warm hearts, the miles and time flew by.
Over lunch, she spoke of chasing dreams, the days she felt like she could fly.
With a wistful tear, she shared her deep wish to feel that way again.
Encouraging her that day would come, he was already a friend.

Returning home up the hill, through the woods, passing the railing,
she asked careful questions. He shared his growth, the questions, the failing.
They paused at the last curve by the water to soak up one more awesome look
of the autumn leaves reflecting in the canal –like pictures in a coffee table book.

A few stairs, a few more steps, and a reluctant hug that came too soon,
She closed the car door, felt her heart pound as her soul began to swoon.
She felt the thudding click of The Cogs turning The Gears of The Universe as they aligned
It felt that the hand of Destiny held the pen. Their next chapter had just been signed.

Many questions still unanswered of what will come from that day -the sixth of October
Still the rightness is certain, the connection persists with the zeal of the drunk finally sober.
Amid all the future’s uncertainties, she knows sure she’ll never again be the same
for she has been touched by the soul, the spirit, The One with Craig for his name.

©2010  patty (fern) love

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Cravings

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Current
Rushes of passion
And
Vibrant
Inner callings demanding my attention,
Now.
Go! Do
Something!

patty (fern) love
Copyright 2010

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Limekiln Reflections

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The rising sun’s reflections on misty, mirror-topped lake
Reveal my imperfections, the changes I must make
To be calm like the waters through dark, mysterious Night
To begin the day in stillness, rising gently with the light
To breathe my inner silence and rest in that clear space
To revel in Sunlight’s warm Love shining on my face
To listen with my ears open, hearing the loon’s call
To hear my inner stirrings, honoring them all
To move through my days gently, allowing for the breeze
To flow along with changes adjusting gently and with ease
To live each day in Beauty so when the Night does come
I’ll feel my inner fullness and be peaceful that it’s done.

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Vanished

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Where does Love go
when it fades one day?
Does it end up with lost socks
the washer stole away?

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Free Hugs – And A Few Bonuses

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

I had an amazing day!  Inspired by a YouTube video where a man stands with a simple sign that reads “free hugs” and hugs willing passersby, I did the same.  I attended the Rochester Pagan Pride Festival today and, with the organizers’ prior permission, carried a “free hugs” sign with me all day.  It’s a day that will long live in my memory.

I don’t know that I can accurately relate what it was like exactly.  One thing I can tell you is that it was fun.  While some people kept their distance – sometimes without making eye contact and sometimes with a smile and a “no thank you” – others approached me eagerly.  A few even run up to me, arms open.  One woman said she’d always wanted to do that.  She liked it so much that I offered her a second hug, this time with the sign on the ground and both of my arms open and ready.  That was really fun.

The kids were also especially fun.  If you haven’t hugged a wee one in a while, see if you can make that happen.  One young girl, who took the initiative and approached me, told me that I hug better than her mom.  (I hope her mom didn’t hear that.) 

There was one special child who will stay in my memory.  She didn’t say a word and couldn’t have with the pacifier in her mouth.  Not more than two years old, she ran right up and hugged me.  Then she ran right back to her daddy and gave him a hug first and then her mama.  This girl knows what to do with a hug – pass it on to someone else.  They’re not meant to be hoarded.

One of my favorite parts of the day was staying present during the hug and feeling when it was time to let go.  In order to stretch myself and truly give hugs, I made a commitment to myself to keep hugging until the receiver let go.  I didn’t want to be the one to stop the hug because I wanted to give each person what he or she needed and wanted.  Sensing that moment was tricky and I was wrong a few times.  Some of the hugs were very quick.  I gave a great, tight hug and let go when I sensed the person pulling away.  It was easy to know when to end those hugs.  Other hugs lasted much longer and I felt myself a little uncomfortable or maybe it was impatience.  Regardless of the emotion, I started just the slightest movement of pulling away (still with awareness) and discovered that the receiver was still fully engaged.  So back in I went, arms tight, letting the receiver end the hug.  Then it felt right to stop. 

I also met a special man, Peter.  I can’t tell you here all that we talked about today but I felt then and still do now that I was talking with God or, at the very least, someone who knows Him well.   As I told my husband, I truly felt like I was in the presence of the divine and I feel changed by the experience.  And it all started with a simple hug.

In all cases, I thanked the brave soul who received my hug and most thanked me.  I accepted their gratitude but I know that I was the one who was actually receiving, and it started by giving. 

Sometimes when you give a hug, a hug that comes all the way from your toes, you get back more than you give.  Try it.

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