The earth is a magical place, filled with life and joy and beauty. Every little corner of this planet is overflowing with exquisite gems and treasures that are freely given to those with the eyes to see. Each space has its own unique alchemy of inhabitants, its own temperaments of weather, and its own peculiar way of reflecting back a deep part of our soul. Our relationship to a particular area of Earth is often more intimate than many of our human-to-human relationships. Arguably, our kinship to this planet it the longest relationship any of us will ever have, as we were born to this Earth from day one and will likely die upon it, as well. Our whole lives we are in relation and connection to this Earth. We can marry deserts, have affairs with islands, yearn for the harsh beauty of tundras, and cuddle with mossy mountains. Every land welcomes our outpour of emotion with a spectrum of compassion; the reception may be cold, rocky and hard, or soft, warm and comforting. All of them nourish our soul with a distinct flavor; sometimes like mother’s cooking from childhood, other times like a pill to be choked down. Like all relationships, our bond with the places of Earth can be messy, ecstatic, beautiful, painful, and uplifting. What matters is that we have them and we are aware they exist. If this awareness is present, then we can strive to strengthen our connections for the betterment of ourselves and the protection of the place.
I am sharing these thoughts with you today because of my experience in Kaua’i this winter. While on the island, I was pulled into what might be called an ‘Earth-relationship therapy session.’ Unbeknownst to me, I was not in balance with my relationship to the island and was given a most beautiful reminder of how to be in reciprocity.
The story begins from our first step on the island. As soon as I felt the warm tropical air, my heart burst open and I was back in love. This was my second trip to Kaua’i and I have been infatuated with the place ever since my first visit. With one breath I could smell the sweet scent of vegetal decay, the salty brine of the ocean, the subtle fragrance of floral blossoms, and overtones of brimstone vog (volcanic fog that occasionally drifts through Kaua’i). My winter tension was dissolving and I was feeling the need to get some sun on my deprived skin. Amara and I collected our luggage, picked up our rental car, and made haste to our friend’s house.
It must be stated that our friends on the Island were a big reason for our visit. They are absolutely soul family and we always part ways with that strange mix of sorrow and gratitude. The first few days we spent visiting with our most amazing hosts, lounging on the beach during the day and talking late into the nights about the cosmos and Spirit. We ate coconuts, chikoos, rambutans, and bananas. I had quite a few fun adventures with the noni fruit, but that may be the topic of its own blog, altogether. To paint a clear picture: we were relaxing in paradise with good company.
Something was off, however. At first, it was too subtle for my caveman mind to notice. All I knew was that ‘tropical ocean’ was currently beating out ‘snow packed desert’ on my priority list. As the first few days passed, though, I began to notice myself getting agitated easily. There was an unsettling feeling, like I wasn’t really there yet. I ran through a list of possibilities: jet lag, adjusting to a new climate, being in someone else’s space, having trouble getting into the ‘island flow,’ etc. Any of these could handily explain my sense of unease, but the feeling remained.
One morning I rose very early to catch the sunrise on the beach. I had been in this pattern for a couple days and loved the epic sunrises that I had been gifted. On that day it was raining and windy. I considered not making the journey, but something within me stirred and I knew this was not a morning to miss. I threw on my shorts and departed in the dark toward the beach. By the time I reached the ocean cliff, the grey light was drearily waking up the sky and sea. There were no cars in the parking lot, a first for me, and I lazily strode down the red dirt trail. On my way down it began to rain lightly and I pressed on. I don’t remember specifically what I was thinking about, but I do remember being caught up in my thoughts, staring down absently at the slippery trail of increasingly sticky mud. At this moment, when I was fully distracted from my present surroundings, the sun found a hole in the clouds and shone brilliantly through. I looked up to witness the angelic light cascading from the clouds. To my delight, there was also a magnificent rainbow over the sea. As if on cue, a large humpback whale made a full breech just beneath the rainbow. It would have been inappropriate to hold my emotions back, so I let the tears of awe flow. The gratitude and love I felt in that moment were overwhelming. I stood watching in the rain for half an hour, as two pods of whales danced in the ocean and air beneath a spectacular Kaua’i sunrise-rainbow.
It was magic in the truest sense. A space opened in my heart and consciousness, and I remembered that this place, like all places on this Mother Earth, is alive. It is a being, a presence, a companion to be appreciated. In my narrow-minded relief to be momentarily free from the grueling winter in Bend, I had forgotten to arrive in my new location. I had not taken a true moment to stop, listen, and ask the place to reveal its presence to me. I assumed that I knew this land, because I had visited one time before. Like a lover who is treated with common regard, the Island was reluctant to meet to my consciousness. I had arrived telling her all my troubles, my pains and struggles. I demanded her comfort, compassion and care as if they were things I had earned by paying my ticket fare. I had not asked her how she would like me to be, nor how I could court her beauty and offer her my love. I arrived with a selfish attitude, thinking of only what I could take and not what I could offer.
In the time I stood watching the whales and rainbows over the sea, something softened in my awareness. I remembered that lands can talk to us in languages more profound than visions. I remembered that we can intimately know a place in ways that can never be spoken, but all of us understand. Most importantly, I remembered that this relationship is not difficult to cultivate. All it requires is that we listen and ask to be shown. I continued down the trail to the beach and sat in mediation for some time, filled with the ecstasy of my experience. I listened deeply to the sound of the waves, took great care in noticing the texture of the sand and breeze, and reached far into my consciousness to let my soul be a mirror for this Island. It was at once magical and natural. I finally felt welcomed.
On my way back home, I stumbled across a small shell that seemed somehow special to me. It was white and looked like a clam shell, but as far as I knew, there was nothing exceptional about it. Yet, it felt like this was a little gift from the place for taking a moment to listen. So, I asked for permission to bring this shell with me, just as we’ve taught so many of our students to do when they want to take from nature. When I arrived back at the house, I showed my little shell to our friends and their eyes widened like full moons. Much to my surprise, I had found a sunrise shell! Apparently, they are the highly coveted quintessential shell of Kaua’i. Finding one can be quite difficult, even if that is specifically your goal. For me, it was an inside joke between two beings in love. I had not been giving with my presence and the island was withholding of her own. When I finally allowed myself to open and dropped my preconceived ideas of this beautiful location, she met me with her own mysterious presence.
How many times have I played out this lesson in locations across the earth? Too many times to comfortably count, for sure. It is my experience, however, that the moment I remember to listen, the land is already there to meet me. I won’t pretend that I will be perfect from this point forward, as no relationship is flawless. But I can say that I’m inspired to continue working on my side of the relationship.
Thank you for reading and hope you are enjoying the spring!
Rainbow Eagle Dreamer
As always, beautifully written and inspiring Dreamer. How lovely to find the sunrise shell, see the sunrise, a rainbow AND humpback whale all in one, magical morning visit to the beach!!
I loved the sentence “I arrived with a selfish attitude, thinking of only what I could take and not what I could offer.” I’m going to hold that thought on our next nature outing, whether it’s deep in the wilderness or at a local park. It’s so important to remember to what we can offer as well. Thank you for your beautiful words. Sharon