Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Bleeding Heart

The Bleeding Heart

Mary Oliver

I know a bleeding-heart plant that has thrived for sixty years if not more, and has never missed a spring without rising and spreading itself into a glossy bush, with many small red hearts dangling. Don't you think that deserves a little thought? The woman who planted it has been gone for a long time, and everyone who saw it in that time has also died or moved away and so, like so many stories, this one can't get finished properly. Most things that are important, have you noticed, lack a certain neatness. More delicious, anyway, is to remember my grandmother's pleasure when the dissolve of winter was over and the green knobs appeared and began to rise, and to create their many hearts. One would say she was a simple woman, made happy by simple things. I think this was true. And more than once, in my long life, I have wished to be her.

Once upon a time there were a humanoid people whose heart's cycled with the seasons. In the winter, their hearts shrunk to the size of a raison. The cold snows echoed their cool souls and empty faces. Come the spring their hearts began to grow and by summer would be so big that you could see them beating through their skin, emitting a pink glow around their chests. All summer long they would forget their work and their worries, and spend their days laughing in the rivers and ponds, embraced by life, love, and one another. Their favorite past time was to press their chests against one another and see how long their hearts could beat in perfect synchronization. Come fall they held on to each other's hands as if it was the last time ever. And of course it would be, at least until the following spring. Why do I wish I were they?

This longing, wishing to live with an open heart with others, no matter how much it bleeds, is the art of compassionate communication consciousness. For out of the longing, and the mourning for those long dark times of perceived separation, comes the blooming of new life.

How does your heart wax and wane?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fiddling While Rome Burns

My booth next to Trapper booth

“We need an inclusive movement and need to eliminate anything that stands in the way of that.” These were words during the presentation, “Fiddling While Rome Burns,” given by Shane Mahoney the plenary speaker for the International Congress of Conservation Biology. I couldn’t agree with him more. In fact, my efforts in conservation in the last decade have been committed to finding ways to support the human dimensions of conservation so that we can get along, not just for greater satisfaction and sustainability on conservation teams, but for the sake of all life. The earth needs us now, not some time in the distant future when we might decide to work with others who are different from us, or who think of wildlife differently.

A pertinent and timely example of this comes from the placement of the Lafeber Conservation and Wildlife booth at this conference. I am on “Trapper Row.” On my aisle of the exhibit hall are 3 trapper organizations and one safari group. Just to my left are the skins of lynx, wolf, beaver, and wolverine and examples of many kinds of leg traps. The most common question I get from people who pass by is not “what do you do,” or “what is Emeraid,” but “how do you feel being next to trappers?” That’s a good question, I tell the people, and then they proceed to give me their views. The thought is that trappers don’t have a place in true compassionate conservation solutions. I have also talked to the trappers on my row. They say they love the animals and their habitats, and want the same things I do – sustainability, diversity, and abundance. Yet, our strategies are so very different.

Though the strategy of trapping brings up pain for me, if I think that I do not share the same universal needs as the trappers, then I won’t be able to empathize with them. If I can’t empathize with them, then we won’t be able to see each other as belonging on this planet, belonging at the table, and belonging at the conference.

Shane ended his talk by saying that we are human because of the different other and that in all of us is some part of God. Without talking to him about this I can’t be sure what he means. What he says to me is this. Though my heart aches to imagine the suffering and stress of an animal bound in a leg trap, I will not close my heart to that pain and that conversation with the different other. For if I close my heart to the pain, I close my heart to the beauty, the joy, and the possibility of what we might create together. I also diminish how I can be the change I wish to see in the world. For if I settle for blaming the trapper, the hunter, the cattle rancher, I risk settling for not looking at my own complicity in harm in the world. So dear trappers, thank you for being at this conference so that I might just get to know your mind, and in the attempt, get to not just know my mind, but change it to feel interconnection and empathy with all beings. May the traps of the mind so free me, and all beings.