At age twelve I had a powerful experience that forever shaped my relationship with our planet. I was swimming in the ocean on a bright California summer day. It was a day of large pounding waves. Being a beach girl and a fearless swimmer, I dove under each big wave before it could break on me. I would dig my fingers into the sandy bottom, hanging on as the waves rolled above me until I felt it was safe to come up. It was while I was hanging onto the bottom, with strong currents swirling around me, that I had a very clear sense that Earth was my true Mother.
What I experienced that day with my whole being was oneness with Earth. I was filled with a realization that Earth is my safest and most reliable refuge. It was clear that she is the source of all nourishment and nurturing. I felt held, at peace and deeply connected. Simultaneously, a new awareness of respect and gratitude for Earth arose in my young heart and mind. When I came up for air I was in awe.
The memory of this experience unfailingly provides me comfort and inspiration, even now. It has also guided me to understand on a core level the supreme importance of taking care of our only home.
I have asked many people over the years if they could remember a ‘peak experience’ during childhood that awakened a strong relationship with Earth. Without fail, everyone replied with a story describing an experience that awoke a deep respect and caring for Earth.
As adults, we can easily be transported into a state of awe when walking through a redwood forest or while viewing a spectacular sunset. We are reminded in those moments, of our deep and strong connection with Earth.
I discovered from my ‘peak experience’ that being at the beach, in the ocean or exploring in the hills is where I felt whole. I naturally became, and still am, a student of Earth, an avid gardener and enthusiastic hiker. Growing food satisfies me beyond explanation and being in wild places rejuvenates me like nothing else.
Love of wildness is an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need. – Edward Abbey
Environmental activism became important to me during the 70’s and 80’s. My career evolved into one of restoring degraded habitats for endangered species in Southern California. While raising our family, Leonard and I helped found a non-profit land conservancy (The Escondido Creek Conservancy) to preserve wild open spaces. Many of those activities led me to understand that people will take action to care for Earth if at their core they respect her and cherish their connection to her.
Recently, The Escondido Creek Conservancy (TECC) celebrated its 25th anniversary and I am overjoyed at how the organization has evolved. TECC has been instrumental in preserving about 3,500 acres of open space in North San Diego County. They now have four staff members and an office in downtown Escondido – all way beyond my dreams! The staff, including volunteers like Leonard, works tirelessly to connect people to the land through a large network of trails and through their education program. TECC reaches out to K-12 grade students helping them to learn how to be good future stewards of Earth. In partnership with the local water district, TECC designed and built an impressive Interpretive Center. TECC is keeping wild places preserved for others to have their own peak experience and personal rejuvenation. I invite you to learn more about TECC.
I feel it is as important as ever for me to speak up about protecting our planet to inspire and encourage others. As qigong practitioners, we know our practice allows direct access to Earth energy which develops a natural sense of caring for Earth and all living beings. Earth needs all her protectors to come forward now. There is a multitude of ways, small and large, to show you care. If you need ideas about what you can do, check out this website.
As we become more aware that Earth provides everything for us, it becomes natural to care more. In degrading the Earth, we degrade ourselves. The reverse is also true. This awareness urges us to make mindful choices and take actions that are better for our Earth and ourselves.