Living Gratitude Giving Back to Gaia
Copyright(c) 2004, Loba, all rights reserved. Originally published in Creations Magazine.
"The entire living universe is an act of communication as well as creation. We play our destined parts well -- when we strive to make our entire conscious existence an act of connection and celebration, sensuality and sacrament, thanks and blessings, purpose and prayer."
- J. W. Hardin (The Canyon Testaments)
Whether to a god or goddess, a specific spirit or ancestor, prayer is conscious communication with the inspirited whole. We pray for that which we need, and pray for the well being and blessings of others. Pray for peace and an end to the environmental destruction. It's important to acknowledge our needs - and to feel worthy of asking for assistance with them.
We may ask many things of Spirit or the Goddess, and yet what we need most from Her may be simply a deeper awareness of the reality of our unbroken connection to Her living being. A more intense awareness of our connection to the All - to the ancestors, the elements, the spirits of specific places and beings that exist for us as an ever-present support. To different degrees we may fail to notice the help and blessings that exist not only right in front of our faces, but right there inside our hearts! So when we make requests in our prayers, they can include simply noticing the support that is around us and within us...and the ability to take it in! While the magical, natural world is always reaching out to us, it is also our responsibility to reach back. And to remember the connections that are ever-present, lifting the veil of our doubt and confusion long enough to feel and to own the truth of our oneness!
"Let us lay our bellies on the ground, becoming one with her wild smells.
Let us raise our arms to the rising sun,
and feel that warmth glowing in, and out from our hearts.
Let us sit and take in the nourishment of her body, slowly,
with every morsel of food we eat, by holy candlelight.
Let us float naked down wild rivers,
closing our eyes to feel the current sweeping over us.
Let us weep and moan with mud on our faces,
leap and prance like deer upon her grassy riverbanks,
and play like dolphins in her oceans.
Let us engage Her deeply, every chance we get,
and be forever finding new chances...
chances to invest our hearts and souls,
our minds and bodies,
into prayers of conscious, ritual appreciation."
Even more vital than our entreaties for assistance, insights and blessings...are our prayers of gratitude and giving back! Such prayers can be verbal or wordless, in solitude or in company with other people - connecting deeply with the inspirited universe through a deliberate process of acknowledgment and celebration. And they need not be elaborate, but simply "thank you's:" Thank you to inclusive Spirit, providing us with our sacred feeling bodies, our life experiences, our home, our place, our mission...and love that's true! For the people in our lives and the chances we're given, and for supportive families when we're so lucky! For the challenges and difficult lessons that we may forget to count as blessings. And for the reverent peoples and tribes that gave their heartfull prayers and presence for thousands of years before us.
Here in this special canyon the spirits of the "Old Ones" seem incredibly accessible, informative, and powerful. Many a guest or quester has reported hearing distinct drumming, flute playing, laughing and singing. In turn, my own prayerful melodies have joined with the echoes of vibrations that have emanated from these enchanted cliffs for the past thousands of years. The songs of the ancestors do not die, so long as we remember to listen for them...and allow them to continue singing through us! Mine are songs of gratitude, continuing an ancient legacy of prayerful love. In these moments I feel my voice reaching out into every nook and cranny of the canyon, carried on wild winds to the ears of alert creatures. And I intend that every time I bless this place with heart and voice, that Mama Gaia will vibrate with pleasure, and glow with the warmth of my promised caring...that I may contribute to and affect the inspirited whole through my own sacred singing being.
"Somebody wrote once that the gift of the wilds
is that they ask nothing of us.
but I hear things differently,
from Gaia, and this wild canyon land.
The chill river asks me to submerge, even in the coldest of weather.
The first light of dawn: "Rise from your warm bed"
The rising sun: "Stand and feel me come into your heart"
The soft ground: "Please, bare your feet"
Every tiny miracle, reaching,
prays to me, to notice,
to bless with my attention and gratitude...
To Be Prayer."
For sure, a major component of living prayer is our undiluted presence. Committing wholly to the here and now, every step we walk (especially barefoot!) can be a means of reaching out to the world, taking in its gifts, and returning our gratitude. Every in-body gesture we make, whether fixing a salad or sweeping the kitchen floor, can be a way to give thanks. It becomes prayer, anytime we feel our gratitude connecting us with the larger whole. While engaged in tasks generally thought of as "mundane," I love to extend my consciousness outward to my sisters all over the Earth that are giving themselves to the same motions. Sweeping the kitchen floor, I send my heart-filled presence out to sisters sweeping from Thailand to Tibet, to Tierra del Fuego, praying that they, too, will hear the subtle music in the straw against the wood, the bamboo, the feet-worn kitchen floors of dirt. I feel their satisfaction at one small task well done, as my bare feet indulge in the smoothness of the cleanly swept wood. I pray that in every language, there are sisters that feel these acts, not as "chores," as our culture so dismissively names them, but as the prayers they can be. I choose to call them my "daily devotions." In the repetition of these small yet profound acts of caring, may we feel a devotion to the well being of all creatures, devotion to the sacredness of every inch of Gaia's beautiful body! May our willingness to sweep away the debris help us to clear that which clutters and clings to the spirits of us all!
With every intentional sound, every communicative act, I try to give thanks and praise. And I give thanks particularly to Gaia, for providing me with such a home, in which to dwell and care for. I give thanks for the trees, the incredible birds singing me awake every morning, and the river I lay down in beneath a glowy canyon sky. Thank you to Gaia's amazing parts and expression, to every rock, plant and animal for being themselves...for giving us so much, simply in their beingness! Thanks to all of them for their inspiration and intense example of presence. Each serves us as a doorway, leading to the palpable reality of the sacred whol e- the experience of, lessons of, and gifts of - sacred self, Earth and Spirit!
All of the natural world is constantly giving, with no holding back: The river flowing! The hummingbird zooming from flower to flower! The sun shining like there's no tomorrow! Clouds bringing us their rain! If we're to remain a part of this reciprocal "gifting cycle," we have to both acknowledge and accept the gifts of every moment! And overlook nothing! Our prayers of gratitude help to make us worthy of all that the natural and magical world provides. By fully taking in the gifts, and by fully giving back through service and gratitude to the All, we're bound to the body of Gaia as well as the will and intention of Spirit...grounded in the prayer of "Forever."..that is the universal flow.