I was working out in the garden this afternoon, shoveling leaf mulch over neglected areas and the spaces soon to be planted up for the fall. I’m dreaming of sweet roots harvested under a cool fall sun. The time to plant again comes quick. Sweat was dripping down my cheek and I was feeling strong and disciplined and capable. My thoughts fluttered between the physical “Ooof maybe that’s enough. No… one more wheelbarrow load. You’ve got it in you.” and then to thoughts on myself and the garden “I didn’t manage everything very well, I wonder how much food we’ll actually get…” and “I am still learning. I am super busy and I try. Even if we get nothing, this will always be a good effort, a cheap education… and the rabbits out here are eating well!”
I stood up and stretched my back and looked around and had a distinct thought: I’m making love here. I know it might sound silly, but I think it’s true. I’m covered in grit, I’m dripping sweat, my thoughts oscillating between the physical and the eternal. My thoughts about homesteading (and just generally being a person on this planet) have been reframed to be not just about getting my own needs met, but about meeting the needs of this place, too. Listening. Connecting over and over. Receiving what is offered, not just taking what I want. Giving out of my own well of resources without requiring return. Trusting that I can actually be a part of this place, not one who dominates it. Remembering that this land is as alive as I am, and any life I take in an effort to sustain my own needs to be received in prayer and the knowledge that I don’t deserve any of it- not any more than that plant or creature deserved death on my account. I’m feeling more serious about things, but simultaneously much more relaxed. I’m falling in love.
I thought that my only reason for not writing much here had been about lack of time and internet access. While that all is true, I now am thinking it’s not the whole truth. I think a part of it is that I’ve felt private in this time. I have been fumbling around like a new lover, unsure of this landscape and my part in all of it. I’ve been blissful and I’ve been insecure. I’ve been overwhelmed and tired, and I’ve been overeager and idealistic and clumsy. I’ve cried and felt I didn’t know what I was doing. I’ve been saturated in the kind of gratitude that leaves you feeling like death could come and it would be too soon but also alright. It’s been too personal to share, I think, beyond the perfunctory updates on chickens and window trim.
This life of mine (if it even can belong to me)? I’m committed. There’s something kind of… no, definitely magical and healing about living with the trees and birds and insects and earth. I’ve been reckoning with the idea that I’m a simple animal, too- that I won’t amount to the kind of success that people talk about. I won’t make anything of myself, and if I’m “made” it’ll be because I unmade myself here. I want to belong. I want to inhabit love. I want to putter around in the woods or around big pots of soup with good people for all of my days. I want no conquering, of my life or anyone else’s. I think about the squirrels leaping from branch to branch, particularly beautiful in the spring when everything was waking up and the redbuds were blooming. I remember that I’m not worried for them. That I trust that they can live and die, just here, in this small place on earth, and I feel almost certain that it is all okay.
I’m worried for us, though. I’m worried for people in this disjointed landscape of abuse and fear. I feel lately that nothing is as terrible as our separation from our source- from our ancestral knowing and our wild animal heart. If only we were all able to return to the trees and remember our way, no more climbing over each other, no more scrambling for any truth. We’d be able to live and die like those squirrels, without the fear that time wouldn’t allow us to know ourselves and our god, because we’d always have known.
A band Jeff and I love play a song (linked above, and best listened to at a volume that envelopes) that is so simple and sweet that we just can’t stand it. Upon first hearing it, we thought about each other. Almost the whole song is the phrase “I want to be good for you.” I feel like my 13+ years loving this person every day has been wonderful and hard and most certainly at its best when we try to embody this intention. I hear that song now and I think about more than my partnership. I think about my relationship to everything, even myself. It’s a lot like what my state of mind is now- very much intense, also exceedingly simple in its summation. I want to be good for you. Making love, you see?