Conversations of environmental health, conservation, and ethics often turn to issues related to sustainability.  We talk of creating community food security by emphasizing locally grown, organic food.  We talk of energy conservation by initiating rebate programs for alternative energy options.  We talk of land conservation by supporting local open space programs.  These and other such initiatives are so very important to the future health and well-being of our communities.  One topic, however, that is not often considered in relation to environmental sustainability is that of our deep connection to the land and wildlife who share our communities. 

            The concept of deep connection refers to the developing of an intimate, respectful relationship with the earth and its inhabitants.  This connection involves increasing our awareness and understanding about where we live and our role within the larger ecosystem we call home.  Developing this sense of awareness can be as simple as learning the habits of the birds frequenting our local parks or as complex as exploring the relation of our home community to a larger watershed or region.  In essence, deep connection is about building a relationship with the earth and allowing ourselves to acknowledge our embedded role in everything going on around us. 

            While the ways in which we can deepen our connection with the earth are numerous and varied, below are a few ideas for getting started. These need not be elaborate.  Even a few minutes a day (or every few days) can create a rich and nourishing experience.

  • Choose one plant in the yard or in a park.  Visit this plant for a moment each day.  Notice what has changed.  Do the changes relate to the season?
  • Each morning, step outside and listen for a minute to hear if any birds are singing.  How does the song change from day to day?
  • Pick a natural spot nearby and visit the spot for a few minutes every day or every week.  Notice any changes or happenings in and around your spot. 
  • Begin a nature journal.  Record the daily weather, and any interesting observations.

            Like all relationships, the more time devoted, the deeper the relationship.  However, even a few minutes a day can make a huge impact on our lives and our experience with the world around us.  When we consciously decide to deepen our connection, we can begin to enjoy the richness that comes with each day of newly focused awareness on our surroundings and the life of which we are a part.  When we consciously decide to deepen our connection, we open ourselves up to learning from the earth and gaining a deeper understanding of what is needed for the sustainability of our communities.

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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