By Deb Matlock
Nature as healer. Nature as provider. Nature as muse. Nature as mother. Nature as teacher. Nature as spiritual guide.
Nature as…everything that allows us to do anything and all of who we are…all at once. Lots to think about there!
I am truly humbled by the experience of being a part of the natural world. So many amazing beings share this earth and so many incredible rhythms, processes, and events happen continually to keep the dance of life going full force. Each rotation of the earth and each trip around the sun bring with them such a wildly profound array of ecological, physical, and spiritual events without which we would not only float into space (because…gravity), but we would not experience day and night or the changing seasons and all that comes with those rhythms (essentially everything). Dare I say, we would be utterly lost and afloat without this earth and all she offers us.
Over the years, as I have worked professionally as an environmental educator and shamanic practitioner, I have seen a collective deepening of the interest in exploring our sense of connection with life around us, our ecological and wild selves, and our place within this vast web of life. I have sensed yet another uptick in the desire to know the wild world since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. It seems that, for many people, this pandemic provides the opportunity to get more interested in the parks and trails, wildlife, and plants, all near home.
In addition to the increase in desire for authentic nature connection experiences, I have also seen a steady increase in people’s interest to give back or work in some way on behalf of the earth and her inhabitants. Seeing this continual growing interest in reciprocity warms my heart, ignites my own resolve, and gives me immense hope for a future where all life can live together on this planet in a respectful way.
In support of this vision held by so many of us, below are just a few randomly selected ideas for ways we can give back and live in a state of reciprocity with this amazing earth who gives so much to us. Perhaps you are already doing some of these things, and perhaps you will also find inspiration in this list for additional ways to live in a deeply reciprocal way.
“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall
Just a few ways of giving thanks and giving back to the earth:
- Consider donating to organizations working on behalf of the earth and its inhabitants. So many wonderful people are doing such wonderful work. Finding an organization that speaks to your heart and supporting their efforts is an excellent way to give back to the earth when our resources allow.
- Consider volunteering your time and skills to organizations working on behalf of the earth and its inhabitants. Volunteering can be a few hours a year to something much more substantial. You can do simple tasks or get much more involved. Finding a situation that feels right to you and allows you to tap into your sense of deep connection to the world around you will not only give back to the earth, but also likely reward you as well.
- Form a neighborhood nature group and together learn about the wild animals and plants living near your home. You could take nature walks together, host a Facebook group of nature info and pictures, or host potlucks (once we are past COVID-19 times) to bring folks together who share a common love and interest in the natural world. From these gatherings, community initiatives can spring forward to support and care for your neighborhood nature beings.
- Take a walk around your neighborhood and carry a small trash bag to collect all the garbage you find. This is simple and free and can take a few minutes or a few hours. And it makes a huge difference!
- Start or end each day with an act, no matter how small, to support the earth. Let this act be personally meaningful to you. Do you want to step outside and deeply breath in the morning air and whisper “good morning” to the world around you or, perhaps blow a kiss to the moon each night before going to bed. These acts, while simple, can serve to keep us connected and focused on the life around us. Awareness of this continual connection can be an act of reciprocity in and of itself. It can lead us to know ourselves as ecological beings and act from that space.
- Create a wildlife habitat in your yard with food, shelter, and water sources. Native gardens are excellent for this! Even a small garden space planted in native plants can serve to support the wildlife in your area.
- Play a game with yourself to see how many items on your shopping list you can purchase in reusable or recyclable containers.
- Make every effort possible to combine your errands and decrease time driving.
- Consider participating in a citizen science program in your area.
- Learn about political candidate’s environmental records and vote for the earth.
- Consider purchasing as many clothes and household goods as you can second hand.
- Explore nature and animal communication to enliven and expand your sense of community to include all beings.
- Share your love of nature with others. This can be as simple as posting a beautiful nature photo on Facebook or as elaborate and devoting your life educating and helping others connect to nature.
- Think of something else to add to a list like this one…something you have never heard of before and that comes straight from your heart.
Deb Matlock grew up in the mountains of Colorado and is deeply committed to nurturing the connection between people, animals, earth, and spirit. She has spent twenty-five years working as a professional environmental and humane educator and naturalist. Additionally, Deb offers shamanic-style spiritual guidance, animal communication, nature connection workshops, and retreats through her business, Wild Rhythms. She is passionate about helping people find connection and deep spiritual meaning in their lives and in the places where they live. Deb holds a Master of Arts in Environmental Education from Prescott College and is pursuing her doctoral degree in environmental studies at Antioch University New England.
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For more information about the work of Deb Matlock and Wild Rhythms, please visit http://wild-rhythms.com/