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Earth Lessons

I’d rather be a forest than a street, yes I would, if I could … I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet …
-Simon & Garfunkel, “El Condor Pasa” song lyrics

I know we’ve come a long way, we’re changing day to day, but tell me… where do the children play?
-Cat Stevens, “Where Do the Children Play,” song lyrics


In The Wind is My Mother (a book by Bear Heart, of the Muskogee Nation), Bear Heart talks about spending time in nature and what we can learn from observing our natural environment. He explains that our existence is intertwined and our survival depends upon maintaining a balanced relationship with everything: “not only the two-leggeds, but also the four-leggeds, the winged, those that live in the waters, those that crawl on the earth, even the plant life.” All are part of the Sacred Hoop and all are related.

Mary Oliver in her poems, “Sleeping in the Forest,” and “The Summer Day,” likewise pays homage to a night spent among the trees, kingdom of creatures, and white fire of stars and a day spent strolling through the fields, idle and blessed.

Do we remember how to be idle? Do we know how to be still, watching the clouds and birds pass overhead and noticing the butterflies, bees, and other insects swarm among the blossoms? And if we dedicate a day to nature, what would we learn?

Bear Heart points out that such “idle” time in nature is not wasted. On the contrary, nature offers us many valuable lessons. We can learn which plants contain healing properties (knowledge that existed prior to pharmaceutical companies), we can anticipate changes in weather patterns by observing the birds and clouds, and we can obtain all sorts of helpful information from animals, insects, birds, plants, and trees. For instance, when we protect trees, we protect bats. Bats make their summer homes under the loose bark. When we protect bats, we don’t need trucks spraying mass quantities of poisons into the air to kill mosquitos. Nature is a wonderful “classroom” teacher for science, as well as other fields of study.

Mother Nature also teaches us when things are out of balance and the process of restoring balance. Rivers need space to rise and flow; animals, reptiles, fish, insects, and birds need habitat; plants need healthy soil, sunshine, and clean air; and humans need nature.

While we are in the womb, all our needs are met. When we live in harmony with nature, Mother Earth provides for us. The roots of the trees and deep flowing waters are her womb. When you are unsure or have questions, ask her to teach you. When you feel sad, lie on the earth and release your burdens to the ground beneath you.

Send your prayers up high into the sky and sink your faith deep into the earth.

Then Listen.

In joy and gratitude,


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