A Deeper Relationship With Earth

Sunrise, Tara Mandala, 4:30 am


It’s 4:20 am and I’m awake. Sleepily, my eyes open to the amazing night sky out the window just next to my bed. For some reason, even though this day is going to be a long, full one and I know I will need the sleep, I can’t sleep. The light from the soon-to-be-rising sun is just barely perceptible along the edge of the San Juan Mountain range outside my window, and even now at this early hour, the saffron-colored walls begin to come alive with this new day.

As I lie here hoping to go back to sleep, deeper within I know something different. I hear an inner voice say, “Get up and go outside.” This  beautiful land is inviting me outside. The land called me here to Tara Mandala, and I responded. I am here for just a few days to co-lead WisdomWomen’s Visionary Gathering. My time here is precious.

So, I get up, throw on my clothes, grab my camera (phone) and journal. I head out into the early morning, down the stairs of Prajna Residence Hall, and out on the path to the community center. Along the way, I pass by the small pond along the road and turn to see the color of the sun barely noticeable in the water’s reflection. I take a picture. It is time-stamped 4:34. It is early and cold. There are no signs of anyone else up yet.

Temple at Tara Mandala Buddhist Retreat Center

As I enter the community building, it is dark. The kitchen staff doesn’t begin till much later. I decide to have coffee, something I do when I am away, especially when I am on retreat. The coffee smells divine as it drips into my cup. I then take my hot cup and journal and go outside to a spot I’d found the day before, just off the side of the community building. There are two plastic chairs. So I sit down in one. My view is looking out at the Tibetan red temple up on the hill where we began our retreat the night before and where we will spend much of our full day ahead. It’s still dark so the temple is hard to make out, but even so, I can see the recognizable red from this distance. As I sit and take it all in, I can feel Her. I can feel the earth –swollen with life waking up from a night separated from the sun.

I pull out my journal and write:

The land here at Tara Mandala is incredibly powerful. She has a kind of holding I’ve never experienced before. I woke up at 4:00 am and felt Her pull in my heart. She told me to come to her, down into Her. To look directly into Her heart. To remember what it is to be Her daughter, and to now wake up to and grow into the sacred blueprint of what it is to be a mature human being who loves all of Her children as She does. To be here, now, fully and open-heartedly, as a vital member of Her joyful family. She longs for this. She longs for us to remember and see and know the beauty of Her heart and soul, and to walk on Her skin with delight and a fierce determination to return Her body to a home where all beings are safe and at peace.

This is the great trauma we have endured and are enduring- this separation from the Great Mother, from Her love, which is also the painful separation from each other and all beings. And She is clear, we can return to Her right now, at any moment by feeling how our blood and bones are held in the rivulets of her waters and the deep valleys of her heart. 

Here, right now, I can feel her so clearly. I can feel her love. I feel immersed in her. Everything in me ripples with her love. Time seems to stand still as I watch the sun come closer, the Blue Jays flit between branches, and the Deer meander through the meadow directly in front of me. The Jays are noisy this morning. Probably they are noisy every morning, but their insistence on being heard reminds me of how life is busy at this time of day even though most humans are still fast asleep.

I sit and sip my coffee, just listening and watching as life emerges from night to day. To fall into her embrace, we must soften. We must let go into being here and being human.

I am softening into her, and as I do I am consciously choosing to be here, now. To be here fully in my life. To accept that she is my mother and I am her daughter. To no longer fight against life. To draw her nourishment up into me through deep strong roots into her. I never put these roots down into her because for most of my life I didn’t want to be here. I think this is more common than we believe.

Without the roots, we cannot be nourished by her.

Without the roots, we float in our human existence.

Without these roots, we cannot know the depth of love that is here for us, and cannot truly love her and be the eyes, the ears, the touch, and a voice for her soul.



A Return to Relationship With Life


“…how calmly, as though it were an ordinary thing, we eat the blessed earth.” ~ Mary Oliver

Seeds are planted, food comes forth…as though it were an ordinary thing.

The moon returns after having gone black…as though it were an ordinary thing.

We open our eyes to live another day…as though it were an ordinary thing.

The Earth sustains us, each day of our lives, and we act as if it were an ordinary thing.


Around us, within us, between us, is the sacred.

Every atom is filled with it. And every atom is it.

Every breath is this mystery gifting us another moment of life. It is quite simple, yet life-changingly profound when we come to really take it in. And, yet, we grow to see it as an ordinary thing.


Wonder and Awe

The nature of the structures and institutions we live in is one of domination and control over life and that which is symbolic of life-giving power. In these structures, the sacred is seen as something above us, outside of us, and in some cases, something that only certain people have access to. It is also seen, by some, as something that does not exist.

For some time, we humans have thought that we can solve any problem simply through our thinking process, even the problems our thinking has created. It’s actually not very logical at all, but then the logical mind that doesn’t acknowledge reality isn’t very logical.

The logical mind run amuck has a quality of cold lifelessness. There is no heart in it, no warmth. When there is no heart, there can be a feeling of the stiltedness that’s somewhat robotic.

The structures we live in do not give much credence to wonder and awe, mystery and uncertainty. When we’re taught we have to know everything, there isn’t much place for these things. When we’re taught that humans own and can control life, not just land ownership but even going so far as to patent seeds, we’ve lost a sense of any relatedness or connection to life. Rather than being in relationship with the life that sustains us, we’ve come to see ourselves as owners and manipulators of this life…sometimes, all for a profit or comfort or supposed safety and security.

But wonder and awe are absolutely necessary if we are to heal the messes we’ve made here on earth. It is our relationship with life that needs healing, and to me that’s the realm of the sacred. And it’s also largely the realm of womanhood.

Why? Because our very need to control, dominate, and fix life is why we are in the mess we are in. And when we continue to act from this mindset to attempt to ‘fix’ our problems without opening to the mystery itself to guide us back into balance, we continue to seal not only our own human downfall, but so selfishly the downfall of many other species.

Our role as humans is of stewards of this beautiful Earth, and, we’ve forgotten our humble role.


Life itself regenerates.

That is part of its mystery, is it not?

Life is intelligent, much more so than any human being. But to know this once again, we must come to remember our place in this vast Universe. There is an intelligence far more intelligent than human beings will ever be. And this intelligence is sacred. This intelligence is what animates all of life. It is the universal life force. It permeates existence. And, we’ve lost our awe for this intelligence. We think we have it figured out. We think we can recite words that capture this intelligence. We think our dogmas explain it.

We’ve been so deeply conditioned to believe that the sacred is NOT in the land, the air, the water, the trees, animals, plants, rocks and yes, people. We’ve been taught to believe the sacred is not in our deep feeling nature as human beings. We’ve been encouraged to believe that the very things we are destroying are simply objects for our use. It’s too easy for our conditioned minds to view life as something we can research, figure out, understand, and even patent, that it is this deep misunderstanding that has brought us to the brink of great destruction.

Furthermore, many of us have been turned off to anything that smacks of religion, or if we follow a particular religion, many of those religions teach that the sacred is above this lowly earth plane. In believing this, we come to push away anything that we believe is trying to tell us what to believe, how to act, or how we must be in order to be worthy of access to the sacred.


A reclamation of the sacredness of life is needed.

Words can point to so many things, and they point to experiences we’ve had in the past, experiences that might be positive or negative or both. So much gets tangled up in a word. Yet, this reclamation that can help us heal is an opportunity; it’s the opportunity to come to know what the word ‘sacred’ means to each of us by way of experience…our very own real life experience.

Words are powerful. We can’t name this that can’t be named. But we can each guide ourselves to really look at our own relationship with this that can’t be named. We can guide ourselves to remember our own experiences of moments when we’ve been profoundly moved by this that can’t be named. And these feelings, these experiences, can be acknowledged with a word, a metaphor, a scent, a flavor, a symbol that speaks uniquely to each of us. Something that puts us back in relationship with that which breathes you.

The word you use to describe whatever it is that brings this awe to you matters not. What matters is the acknowledgement that there is something greater than you, or me, or us. What matters is that we find our way back to a relationship with this that is greater than all of us.



What brings out the feeling that you are connected to something greater than yourself? What brings you back to wonder and awe? What helps you remember there is something greater than you, whether it be community, relationship, humanity, the animal kingdom, Mother Earth…something that compels you to come back to the whole and to wholeness?

When you remember this experience, or these experiences, how do you feel? What do you feel? Where do you feel it?

For me, I notice these things in many small moments, as well as some of the ‘bigger’ life moments I’ve known.

I’ve seen the sacred in those ecstatic moments of my children’s births, or the births of my grandchildren that I was lucky enough to witness. I’ve seen the sacred in those moments of death, pain, and illness of those I love deeply. And sometimes, it’s been the way my arm or hand moves to the music when I dance, or how the warm wind feels when it’s blowing across my face. Sometimes, it’s been the miracle of my grandchild’s small hand with big dimples by each finger that causes my breath to catch.


Breath catching is a sure sign of the sacred.


Just consider this: You are alive. You ‘eat the blessed earth’ each day. You drink Her waters. You breathe Her air. You are here.

The Earth is this Mystery in form. We are Her.

Let yourself see the amazingness of just this. Then, call it whatever you wish. But, acknowledge that Yes, that something is right here, looking out your eyes, breathing your body, beating your heart. Acknowledge just how close this is to you. And, after really taking this in, acknowledge that what this is is not ordinary at all.

I’d say it is sacred. And, what do you say?


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