By Deb Matlock

I am writing this blog during a period of social isolation – required shelter-in-place for many of us – due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  So much distance from friends and loved ones has started to wear on me, even though I am someone who loves to be alone and have time to myself.

The other side of this coin of social isolation is that it provides us a unique opportunity to really and truly find a sense of companionship and community with all the life that surrounds us each day…and so much of that life lives within the six feet or required social distancing from other humans.

Sparrows, doves, daffodils, crocuses, tulips, aspen trees, fir trees, ponderosa pine trees, ash trees, cottonwood trees, phlox, insects, squirrels, mice, rabbits…all of these wild beings have been within my six foot social distancing circle in the last few days.  And, these are just the beings I noticed.  No doubt there were others. These are members of my community I can still be in connection with regardless of the pandemic the human community is enduring.  These are the members of my community who frequent my yard and neighborhood and share each day with me even when I am too busy focusing on email, Zoom calls, phone appointments, etc. to really spend quality time in their worlds.

woman walking dog on path

Below are some ideas for ways we can connect with the living world around us.  These activities can take 1 minute or a whole day…whatever inspires you.

  • Who is Here? Take a step right outside your door wherever you live. Pause and just start to tune into what you see, hear, smell, and feel.  Which birds are calling from the trees?  Do you see any plants blooming today that were not in bloom yesterday?  Do you see any evidence of squirrel activity?  Just take a moment and say “hello” to all these beings who are there with you.
  • Nature Calendar – Each day, choose one being in nature who really draws your attention, tugs at your heart, or inspires you to stop and take a breath. Is she a cloud rolling overhead or a small rabbit bounding through the park?  Or, perhaps you stumbled across a neighbor’s vibrant tulips while walking your dog.  Record at least one being on your nature calendar each day.  By the end of the month, this calendar will provide a lovely record of who you spent time with during the month.
  • Sensory Awareness – Take a moment to focus on one sense at a time. What do you see, hear, smell, or feel in a certain place?  When we focus on only one sense, oftentimes we start to experience more within that realm.  We see more, hear more, feel more, smell more…conscious awareness is a powerful tool in helping us sink deeply into the more-than-human worlds surrounding us.

The above are just a few ideas to help with connection to the life around us.  While we are away from each other, we can focus on the more-than-human members of our communities.  Who knows, perhaps we will forge relationships that last long after our period of shelter-in-place ends.  Maybe we can use this time to create connections that change us deeply in our souls and open our eyes to those with whom we share the same yard, park, or sidewalk.

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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