This past weekend was my second Morning Altars weekend meetup – two full days of online discussion and sharing, as well as plenty of time for creating in nature. We continue to meet online every Tuesday evening for about an hour and a half for more instruction and to connect as a group.
As architect of this program, Day Schildkret has found a way to create community (or as he calls it, “togethering”) online in a way that is supportive and caring, something often lacking in online communities. He reminds us often to “lift each other up” in the chat window, and we break into smaller groups regularly. As he shares his own vulnerability, we’re comfortable to do the same.
This weekend, our focus was on our connection to this place, this land that we live in. As we shifted our view of nature from “what” to “who” it influenced how we approached our relationship with it, how we interacted with it. After all, we’re really just a guest on this land, and as always, it’s important to be a caring guest.
This idea of being a guest speaks to the larger idea of reciprocity. A guest/host relationship, is all about giving and receiving. This begs the questions: What does it look like to be a good guest? A good host? How can we be a good guest in this place we call home? And how does a good host help you to feel a sense of belonging?
That last question really got me. For years I’ve shared with people that I lived in North Idaho for eight years and never really felt “at home,” never felt like I fit in. It occurred to me, as I repeated that same old story to one of my classmates, perhaps if I had taken time to connect with the land on a deeper level, I would have. Perhaps my sense of belonging can be impacted by an understanding of where I am, of the land I am on. That transitioned in to a whole discussion on what it means to belong. And while that’s a topic for another post, it’s also something to ponder in your own life.
During the weekend, we spent much time outside, away from the computer. We meditated, we created and we engaged. One particular practice asked “what is our place here as humans in this web of life.” It took us on a journey through time – past, present and future – asking to remember with the place what she looked like at different points in time. As I imagined what this land I inhabit might look like 50 years or 500 years in to the future, it brought tears to my eyes. “I’m sorry,” I told her, “that we did not take better care of you.”
And then as I built my altar around that practice, something changed. It changed from “I’m sorry” to “thank you” as I adorned my favorite tree and celebrated his life and all he has provided.
This is all to say that this class and this practice goes far deeper than I ever imagined. It’s about creating relationships – with the land, with yourself, with those around you. It’s healing and it’s how we let our hearts speak. Stay tuned!