The First Peoples of my native Australia talk of the Speaking Land. Listen to that phrase, and you’ll hear in it the understanding that nature is alive and conscious and will communicate with us in many voices if we will only pay attention.
In our busy contemporary lives, noisy with traffic and media, we need to pause and remember what kind of attention this requires. The Latin stem of our word “attention” is the verb attendere, which literally means “to stretch toward” something. Giving our attention to the Speaking Land is a stretch, especially if we spend most of our days in cities of glass and concrete, eyes glued to a screen, drawing our inner soundtrack from Headphoneland.
But there is good news: a walk around a lake, or just in the neighborhood park, can be a fabulous tuneup. And when we start to attend to the Speaking Land, its voices get louder and clearer.
Yesterday I took a walk with a good friend with whom I have shared dreams – dreams of life and dreams of the night – for many years, around a pond in Northeastern woods where beavers have built a lodge and a red-tailed hawk once brought me a message, knifing down through the clouds. We strolled for a few miles along the trail, enjoying the dappled light. We were speaking about the need for a new book on imaginal healing (the theme of a recent post here) that we might write together. I paused from our conversation to ask: what is the response of the Speaking Land to this project?
At that instant, I saw at my feet part of a tree root that was so like a horseshoe, with the ends pointed up (from my perspective) in the correct and “happy” way, that for a moment I thought that a horse had shed a shoe on that trail. Recognizing what was in front of me for what it was, I touched the tree root gratefully. It seemed like a good luck sign from the Tree People. Yes, I will write the book on imaginal healing, with my friend.