Monday, August 27, 2007


For some time I have been curious about the open question of... "What is it that walks with us from the experience of wild nature into our other lives?" Each of us answers this question in their unique way. The following insight is from a recent workshop participant.

The Abiding Spirit of Hospitality
by Martha Dahlen

What if, when visiting the woods, I think of the forest as my host, and of me as a simple guest?

Well, then: Before entering, I naturally pause. Gathering my wits about me, or perhaps letting my heart catch up, as nomadic Indians were said to do. I announce my presence: two claps! and a bow. “I am here; may I be welcome!” I walk. Attentive, observant, appreciative. But then mind slips, like eyes at a cocktail party, roaming for something more interesting than what is around me. I smile, refocus, walk. The ground is resilient, dainty leaves of understory herbs coyly brush rugged trunks. Ah! What can I take back of this deep experience? I stop abruptly. Take back? As in grasp, snatch, steal? Oh! Not that! But what else is there? A response comes from nowhere, or everywhere: “Just be with us.” Just BE? Is it enough? What a relief. But if I am to just be, then I should just be my best, whatever that is. I consider. I walk. It occurs to me that any good guest brings a gift. What can I give the forest? Ah! I pour a libation from my water bottle, and hope the chlorine is not offensive. Another smile. Upon leaving, I give thanks for impeccable hospitality. Two claps! And a bow.

But the memory of that experience lingers. When I see city plants--shrubs, grass, flowers, in pots and yards and highway meridians, I know all of them come from some plant community somewhere else, some close-knit ecosystem where they feel at home and thrive in splendor. Now, here in the city, they are my guests, and I must remember to host them well.

No comments: