One spring day, a lion showed up in a meditation. I was at a writing retreat, led by a wonderful guide named Susan Hagen. The task was to write without once lifting pen from page, for forty minutes, to give our unconscious a chance to speak in peace. The prompt, “I am standing at the edge…” brought up a scene in one of my favorite books, The Silver Chair, by C. S. Lewis. Aslan, Lewis’s divine energy as lion, sends the two main characters to their task in Narnia on his breath, off a high cliff. In my writing, he was breathing me to the earth I’m so passionately in love with.
I want to lie on her and let flowers grow through me, around me. I want grasses waving at my head. I want forget-me-nots in my fingers. I want my feet surrounded by wild irises. I want to see the sky and the plains. I want to stride through canyons. I want to be part of the air. I want to swim in cool, clear streams on hot days, feeling the silk of water against my skin. I want to lie on warm sand, in deserts, surrounded by ancient stones, warmed by the setting sun, thrilled by the chorus of coyotes that starts suddenly, making sure I know I am part of their pack, part of their song, even as I am in danger of their wild, adventurous, ravening ways. I want to hear the choruses of spring peepers in the damp, cool twilight of spring, talking to me of flowers pushing their way through dark, willing soil, under the circling trees, whose bark is coarse and pitted under my touch. I want to hear the leaves shush away as I walk through the fall forest with the sun slanting in at a sharp angle, still warm, but barely.
That afternoon I wrote a meditation on my passion for wildflowers. The prompt, “Where spirit lives…” led instantly to lying in damp woods taking pictures of wildflowers. They connect me, I wrote, directly to the soul of the earth. I didn’t expect any of this. That’s the point: finding out what matters most by listening to our deep, very surprising self.
So I brought the two together in this collage, a lion with a mane from my wildflower photography, a celebration of wildness, beauty, image making, spirit. Those are the watchwords of The Soul of the Earth. This gorgeous world has many wonderful voices, our human voices among them, and this is my way of joining the chorus.