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Returning to the Expanse, the Eternity, and the Endless

A lay friend offers her own love letter to the Earth.

Dear Mother Earth,

You are vast in your meadows, oceans, and skies; expansive in your terrestrial wonders, the eternity of your waters; endless in the air above that blows across the globe of you to carry us as we live.

Amid all this vastness of you, Mother Earth, we humans often seek to impose boundaries. To shape your expanse and eternity and endless offerings into pieces, to fragment and disconnect, to cut and carve you in an effort to claim that which belongs to all, that which belongs to itself, and that which belongs to you. This creates breaks in your rhythm and robs your children of the full expression of your love, your gifts, and your intention as the source of all life.

On top of the perimeters we impose upon you, we further have learned to build walls and cages. Walls that keep your children from knowing one another with open minds and hearts, and cages that restrict the agency of so many of your children to explore you freely.

meditating cat by Alfonso Montellano Lopez

One of the many types of confinements we impose is a cage upon animals. We imprison animals for entertainment. We imprison them for their milk, for their flesh, and for other attributes we deem of some human benefit. Their imprisonment is brutal and cruel, the product of a human mind that has separated the actions of its body from the intention of its soul. These words can be painful for us humans to contemplate. I allow myself to sit with this pain and ask, what is arising? What tools can my practice offer for holding any reaction without judgment or rejection?

For a cow’s life to end without ever having felt the sun, for a pig’s life to end without having once had the opportunity to play, for a lamb to be raised in a crate, kept in darkness, and then slaughtered to make a meal of trauma—none of these realities honor the interconnected nature of our world. How all traumas are traumas of the Earth, to which we belong and from which we are inseparable. In building cages, we fail to remember the vastness and expanse, the ways in which the suffering of this same cow, pig, or lamb is our suffering, too.

Mother Earth, in allowing humans to evolve into bipedalism, you have given us such gifts of time and the possibility to use our hands to attend to that which matters most. To outstretch our arms in nurture of the cow, pig, lamb, and every last being with whom we share you.

In our fallacy of dominance we have lost our way. Just because our hands can build walls and cages, just because we can carve and cut, fragment and disconnect, does not mean that this is how we are meant to use the potential of our evolutionary path. We must take a cue from your uninterrupted skies and seek to dissolve the split of mind and body, of intellect and soul, and of human and more-than-human forms. We are all one and in order to heal all, we must abolish cuts and carvings, cages and walls, and lead lives uninterrupted by fragmentation and disconnection.

Mother Earth, I promise to question anything that seeks to exploit through separation, isolation, or confinement. I promise to seek to undo borders and divisions, to disassemble bars and bricks that divide life from life. I promise to integrate my mind, soul, heart, and being into oneness with all that lives. I promise to devote the full force of my creativity, compassion, patience, and hope to inclusivity and unity, and to use my two hands to foster expansive liberation.

Thank you for modeling the way of eternity and unbounded connection. There is so much to learn from you, our most patient teacher. Know that I am listening and devoted to all life.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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