Love the earth like a mole,
hold close the clods,
their fine-print headlines.
Pat them with soft hands —
Like spades, but pink and loving; they
break rock, nudge giants aside,
Fields are to touch;
each day nuzzle your way.
Tomorrow the world.
by William Stafford
Just back from teaching on Holy Isle, my earth-love is very much in the foreground. Interesting to notice how it’s the little things that stand out: the nearness of the robins there, quite without fear; the smell of the lilac tree as soon as I come outside; the bright redness of the ladybird on new-green leaves.
I like William Stafford’s invitation to love the earth – and then the world – intimately, up close. It might go for people, too. I heard it said about a teacher that he loved mankind, but not actual people. Certainly there’s an extra level of test to any love when proximity is close: like a friend who is great company in small doses, but when on holiday together you find out how deep that love goes, and if it can bear the nearness.
But it’s precisely that nearness that gives the opportunity to turn love from a noun into a verb. Pema Chödrön says that mindfulness is “loving the details of our lives”, not just the headlines and big brushstrokes but the daily intimacy of small gestures, of subtle turning away or towards, of making space for difference and frictions, and reconnecting with appreciation.
Good to remember, and to continue to practice. ‘Love the earth like a mole’, and each other, and ourselves as we sit in our own silence, noticing what we notice. ‘Tomorrow, the world.’