Friday, June 04, 2021

Friday Ramble - Earth

Earth is a good word for pondering in this shaggy season as we cultivate our gardens and tend the sweet beginnings of the harvest to come.  All things, or at least most things, arise from the earth and return to it in time, us included.

Our word dates from before 950 CE, and it comes to us through the good offices of the Middle English erthe, the Old English eorthe; the German Erde, Old Norse jǫrth, Danosh jord and the Gothic airtha, all springing from the Ancient Saxon eard meaning soil, home, or dwelling. All forms are likely related to the Latin aro, meaning to plough or turn over. Way back is the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) form *h₁er- meaning ground, soil, land or place.

When we say "earth", we are most likely thinking of the ground under our feet, of garden plots, orchards, wooded hills, city parks, farm fields and shadowed arroyos.  We may be thinking of wild plums, oak leaves, weeping willows, of the seeds and sleeping roots below our feet, the granite bones of our little blue planet and the fiery heart beating way down deep in its molten core.

We almost never consider ourselves as elements in the same story, but blood and bones, root and branch, rivers and rocks, we are part of a vast elemental process, a cosmic web. Befuddled strands in the web that we are, most of the time we forget that we are part of anything at all. 

Once in a while, the simple truth that we are NOT separate shows up and insists we pay attention. It happens while we are dangling half way up a rock face or seated in a pool of sunlight under a tree in the woods, stretched out on a hill somewhere under the summer stars, or standing on the shore of a favorite lake at sunset. A good sunset or a starry, starry night does it for me every time, and occasionally it even happens while I am parked in the waiting room of my local cancer clinic. Moments of kensho (見性) can't be predicted, and nor should they, but I have noticed that they often show up right when I need them.

There we are with our feet planted in the dirt and our heads in the clouds, not a lofty thought in sight, and out of the blue a scrap of elemental knowing puts in an appearance. In that moment, we know beyond a doubt that we are part of all this and right where we should be. We belong here, our roots, branches, star stuff and every dancing particle - we belong here as much as rivers, mountains, acorns, wild salmon and sandpipers do. Dirt, clouds and stardust, it's all good.

1 comment:

Barbara R. said...

You said it very well! I finally have a copy of Scatterlings, and am endeavoring to experience more of the land/earth of my own place.