Like most people, the recent bushfires have been something I have been deeply moved by. The enormity and scale of the impact of these fires across Australia are hard to fathom. It sure is challenging to witness so much destruction of nature, wildlife and human lives. As such I have been trying to take the bigger spiritual viewpoint to help try to make sense of it all and find a semblance of peace even from the helpless place on the sidelines.
There is so much fear, hopelessness and negativity in the collective, but also so much fostering of community, strength, unity and true connection. I have watched media reports of people who lost their homes and aside from sharing the pain, shock and suffering a consistent message of a shared humanity, vulnerability and love also shined through.
One farmer stated something that was so moving, that it brought tears to my eyes. Despite perhaps finding it hard to easily express or share his feelings, he was able to convey the gratitude he felt from truly being met by friends, family and even complete strangers with the simplicity of a genuine deep and tight hug. This hug contained the non-verbal and universally understood message of human connection, empathy and love. And for this man, this hug delivered something that perhaps he hadn’t quite experienced before and one I am sure he won’t forget easily. Others who lost everything in the fires were able to reflect that at the end of the day, if you only have your life and all your stuff is gone, you come to realise you don’t need material goods – you just need each other.
So there are always hidden benefits from tragedies such as these. We always see this coming together of community and get to witness ‘love in action’ after events like 9.11 and natural catastrophes. People unite through shared emotion and experience. At these times we are able to set aside socio-economic, racial, religious, political and gender divides and just meet each other in the naked vulnerability of our shared human story. We are all one in the end.
Moreover, we are one not just with our fellow humans, but we are also one with the earth. And in these times of natural disasters it is almost like the earth is doing the only thing she can to wake us up and to shake us into action and force us to really be here, to be in our hearts and get out of the complacency and illusion of the matrix. She wants us to be loving, conscious, cooperative and connected in light. We need to stop the conflict, fear, judgement, competition and the distraction of consumerism. We need to have the courage to create real change and do what we need to do, even if it is complex and challenging and messy. If people are not willing to notice the divinity and beauty and magic of this amazing planet, until it is razed down in front of them….then maybe that is the ultimate sacrifice the earth is making.
In my many years of practice as a naturopath and healer focusing on holistic and preventative health paradigms, I have to say that unfortunately for most of us human beings, the change that we require doesn’t come naturally. It often only comes when it is forced. We all know we ought to eat better and exercise more, but until we get a diagnosis of some kind that threatens our wellbeing and day to day life, we tend to take our bodies for granted and prefer not to make positive preventative changes. Necessity is the mother of invention and fear can be a motivating force for us to change. Unfortunately, Gaia – our beautiful planet, is treated much as we treat our own bodies. We fail to admire the inherent beauty, intelligence and majesty of our own body, we fail to properly take care of it, we imagine it will always be there for us, that it will keep providing for us with little fuss or input, like a silent, obedient servant. And then one day it doesn’t show up as expected, gives us discomfort or other signs or symptoms and we are forced to tune in and notice it – and hopefully be compelled to act differently to redress the imbalance that we caused, consciously or not.
So from a higher perspective, it seems that this planet and humanity are maybe both mirroring each other and reflecting the crisis we are in. But inside the crisis a hidden evolution is taking place in our hearts and minds as well as in the earth. Most of us can see that the old paradigm is dying a miserable death. The old way of doing business built on competition, greed, endless economic growth and the survival of the fittest mentality is unsustainable and out of step with what is needed for a living, loving and dynamic future for all of us. In the wake of this necessary change is breakdown of the old and in some sense a certain amount of loss and destruction on many levels can be expected.
Even as we observe that old species are dying, we also have to see that other species are evolving and adapting and new species are being born alongside them. We fail to see the next stage of growth unfolding in the evolutionary process when we are stuck in destruction, fear and despair or habitually clinging to the known and predictable reality of the past. Let’s face it, it is scary to let go of our attachments and the comfort of our known reality and way of doing things. Instead of facing impending change with courage and valour most of us operate in avoidance, stick our heads in the sand and find all sorts of distractions and short term panaceas for our discomfort, rather than having to face ourselves, our habits and the state of play.
Neither position is healthy – avoidance of the problem or clinging to the status quo – and so we must attempt to walk the middle path of consciousness and maturity. Embracing the ultimate impermanence of life and the inevitability of change whilst holding grace and gratitude for the things we love and an inner zeal to protect them.
It is no easy task, and one that I wrestle with daily. Being in the now moment and welcoming the timeless grace of each new breath, like a new beginning. And in the next moment learning to embrace, let go and surrender control. I am learning to witness and reflect on every large and small death that occurs in my life – children growing up, relationship changes, treasured things lost, body getting older, favourite clothes worn out, pets dying, bugs eating my veggies…the list goes on.
There is so much opportunity to surrender and honour the beauty of this life journey in all its challenge and complexity. Maybe we all need to take a few lessons from nature on this. Learn to witness the constant cycle of life, death and rebirth that the earth parades before us season after season and learn from this. Can we open ourselves up to let go of what is no longer working, have the courage to make some tough decisions and at the same time celebrate the always emerging new cycle of evolution and becoming?