The Plants are Holding You
We are in the full tilt of summer here and the trees around my house have filled in the cove surrounding me, turning my stilted home into a kind of bassinet in the grove. In the winds of a thunderstorm my house rocks, ever-so-slightly, and when the wind moves through the leaves it is as though they are humming a lullaby.
It is a balm. To look at the world around you and realize, you are truly being cradled.
Everywhere you go, the plants are holding you.
They are the grandparents. The caretakers. The ones that make our lives possible. From the houses that we live in, to the fuel we pour into our cars, to the food we eat and the air we breathe. They are here for you.
And every time you are rocked by a force that comes into your life overnight, stripping you of stable ground, there is a world of quiet green giants, and of tiny tendrils both, that will see you and accept the storm within you— will love you exactly as you are.
This is the lullaby of a world that is here for you, even in the pitch of your darkest moments. Even, in the midst of a full-on eclipse.
We are in the thick of summer eclipse season and, whew, have the heavens rocked a good many people these past few weeks. (It’s in times like these I am so grateful for the earth, and all its beloved gravity).
When we hear eclipse season is en route many of us know to prepare for hidden things coming to light, for the old paper-worn structures of your life to dissolve and for the dark matter of new beginnings to come to life. But that doesn’t mean the reality of it won’t take us by surprise. I know, for myself, I came into this season feeling quite steady indeed. Steady enough that the shocking tip of this eclipse threw me for a serious curve.
The other night I dreamed that I was riding a tall Ferris wheel at sunset. The view, and the perspective that came with it, was stupendous, but the experience was far from peaceful. Every time I got to the top the whole cart would upend itself. It was only through the sheer strength of my will that I continued to hold on as I got turned upside down, everything that wasn’t secured to my body falling away to the ground. It felt like an apt description of the cyclical upheavals and wild ride that has been these past few weeks.
When eclipses happen the familiar landscape around us changes and our whole perspective can shift.
I remember when the Great American solar eclipse shadowed our southern mountains last summer. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, to watch the light, not quite fade, but simply leave the landscape. Like a thought that was here and then gone. This is just how eclipses work, they dim the lamps by which we normally see and so the shape of things looks so much different than before.
During this most recent eclipse, I was traveling up north to the meadowlands of Pennsylvania where I was born, and then even further, to where my family is originally from— Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the great sandbar of Long Island. Like taking a puddle jumper to look over your hometown, traveling has the ability to raise you above your everyday existence so you can see the larger patterns that normally get lost in the noise. It can be refreshing, to get an eagle’s eye view of it all, but it can also be a bit dislocating to see just how far you’ve come.
As the old idiom says, you can never go home again. Which isn’t to say that you can’t revisit an old haunt, but once you grow out of the familiar shell that once was your home, you’ll simply be too big to reinhabit the old.
Eclipses come to change landscape of our lives, expanding the contours of who we are so that, truly, we cannot go back to who we once were.
It’s a good thing, to have the earth-of-you worked so. But it can be hard to watch the landscape, the old life you had grown used to, become shadowed, raw, dug and exposed. That said, no matter where I go, and how deeply my inner and outer landscapes change, one thing remains the same.
Everywhere I go, the plants are with me.
It is no small thing, to know that any place you visit, there will be a friend. That even when you are the most lost, you are never alone.
It was such a balm for me, to be in the midst of my old street in Brooklyn (a place that has much changed since I lived there) and find a datura growing by the sidewalk. Or to be at a family reunion in the flats of Long Island and notice chicory edging in at the corners of a meticulously kept lawn. Wherever I go, the plants find me, help me to smile again. And I can’t help but think, as I love them, that they are loving me right back.
Sometimes we get so lost in our own humanness, with its innate fragility and hurt, that we forget how big and benevolent the wider world, the otherworld, truly is. So, if you are needing some support today, if your ability to see the goodness or feel at home seems distinctly eclipsed, let your eyes roam out to your backyard, or the empty lot next door, and find a plant who is waving to you.
Because they are right there, waiting to wrap you up in hope.
If you ever feel overwhelmed by the riotous abundance of the plant world and don’t know how to start making a connection, your connection, check out my new video Three Easy Practices to Connect with Plants.