There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks.
Most of the time we are simply not patient enough,
quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.
~ Linda Hogan, in Listening to the Land
I spend a lot of time out in nature, standing on the land. Grounding myself in the present. On watch. Listening to the sky as the clouds rumble into each other, listening as the dust blows across the earth, contemplating where the dirt road with the missing gate would take me if I chose to walk its lines.
I believe that this is one of the gifts I was given at this time in my life. I have time, time enough to stand and silently absorb the story of the earth. I have the time it takes to be patient. I have the time it takes to be fully quiet. I live a life of pacing. I am blessed that I can life my life slowly.
If I have the time to listen to the land, then surely I have time to also listen to the inhabitants of this land.
I read an article not so long ago regarding the customs of greeting people. We give automatic responses to each other to one of life’s important questions. “How are you?” we ask, routinely, not waiting for any sort of meaningful response. Even eye to eye contact would be a small gift in this exchange, an acknowledgement. “Yes, I see you. I honor you as a fellow human being.” But busy lives often prevent even the most fleeting moments of connection.
As a practice, it is harder than I think it should be. I’ve been intentionally practicing this for quite a few weeks now. With store checkers and baggers, with gas station attendants, with people I pass on the street. A simple hello and a meeting of the eyes. Sometimes I find it incredibly difficult, and I wonder if it is a practice that we have learned to curtail as a society?
So I continue to practice. And pay attention to the story I am hearing.
Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.