Monday, July 04, 2011
Shoulder High to a Thistle
This morning’s walk takes me through my favourite meadow. It is my favourite because it is one of the few fields around here that really is a meadow in the traditional sense, i.e. several unploughed, undisturbed acres of mixed grasses and wildflowers rather than one of those the ryegrass monocultures so beloved of present day agribusiness.
Right now, as we move into July, the meadow is a wild natural profusion, an effusive, flowering, seeding, jumble of colour, shape, size and texture. Except for the well-trodden footpath that runs through its centre, most of the grasses and flowers that live here are waist-high now.
I stand next to a tall, many-branched thistle plant that is at least a foot taller than I am. Looking around, I can see a dozen more such lofty specimens, each bristling with flowers, some already beginning to go to seed. Could that be why they aspire to such a height, to take advantage of the breeze when the time comes to waft their progeny aloft on thistledown wings? It can’t be just to catch the light that they grow so tall, surely, since the entire meadow is in full sun. But maybe, I think to myself, there is no basis for their decision to keep reaching for the sky except the sheer exuberance of the creative, universal life force that powers them. And I feel the tingling flow of that same energy in my own body as I stand there in the meadow in the morning sunshine, shoulder high to a thistle.
Which, when you think about it, is the sort of relationship in which we ought to see ourselves at all times, we puny humans, compared to the vast plant kingdom on which our very existence depends. In fact, if height were a measure of ultimate importance in the scheme of things, perhaps ankle high would be more accurate. Even that might be to exaggerate our own significance.
If we have any importance, any special role to play in all of this, I think it is, as Brian Swimme suggests in his chapter of GreenSpirit: Path to a New Consciousness, our ability to be amazed. Perhaps my role, right in this moment is merely to stand next to this thistle plant that towers over me and reflect on the wonder, joy and beauty of that and of this beautiful sunny morning in the meadow.