Many thanks to a dear friend who posted this on social media today – an offering on gratitude by David Whyte. It reminds me so much of my seeking to find stillness, which feels so difficult at the moment. I have been rejecting the invitation to be still, to be present and with that which is seeking to emerge. To let go and be in some type of flow seems impossible. I feel like my body is hoarding (ideas, expectations, guilt and intentional blindness) so much so, that I am bulging and about to burst my banks. What is it that I am not paying attention to? I went and sat under the sheoaks at the cliffs this morning, hoping that the wind and trees would whisper secrets into my ears and heart, and help me to be present and still. They were soothing, as are these words from Whyte…
Gratitude is not a passive response to something given to us, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not necessarily something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a-priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life.
… to intuit inner lives beneath surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones, and therefore to make a conversation without saying a word, is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once.
Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness… Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets all other presences (©2013 David Whyte – Excerpted from ‘GRATITUDE’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words).
I am reminded of the words of Abram (1996) and Mathews (2003) about being in silent conversation with things and being present enough to encounter the more-than-human world. To be open and acknowledge with gratitude the abundance of life that we can be with all of the time. To realise we are never alone.
I returned to a book by David Tacey this morning, Edge of the Sacred: Jung, Psyche, Earth, and opened up at a page on which he wrote about landscape as a mythopoetic field. Tacey (2009) writes:
‘Landscape is a mythopoetic field which acts on human beings from without, causing them to conform to ancient patterns and re-enact lives and movements of ancestral animals and other beings’ (p. 145).
This single sentence is so rich with meaning and immediately resonated with multiple threads of my research… country speaking to us and through us… each place has its own feeling (liyan) which makes it right for doing certain things (including avoidance)… Bugarregarra as a dreaming/process of co-creation imbues places with this liyan (perhaps it could even be described as a kind of affordance for doing certain things).
How do interpret or understand Tacey’s statement about landscape, or Country, as a mythopoetic field?
Beyond the materiality of Country or place, there is a larger field (not seen but sensed), from which stories emerge. These stories might just be there, lingering, waiting to be spoken; perhaps spontaneously, or maybe through a felt sense of a word whispered to us in a time of deep listening. The emergence of stories from a field that is inextricably interwoven with place, that is place, tells a bigger story about how storytelling binds people and place… we emerge together through stories. This is a vastly different conception of stories and storytelling as compared to egoic authorship.
I am reminded too of a post I wrote a few months ago about memory in nature/place and Rupert Sheldrake’s work on morphic resonance:
‘Perhaps the ‘memory’ in a place, which may have been created through repeated ritual practice in that place, acts like an intention of how beings should interact with place and each other in situ. Maybe morphic resonance is like an affordance of place…’
“… The response of this country to our call consisted of different but cross-referenced responses to different individuals, together with common responses for the collective. It felt like a coming alive of the world, a flow of configurations of circumstances along axes of meaning.”
Freya Mathews in The World Hidden Within the World: a Conversation on Ontopoetics [Published in The Trumpeter 23, 1, 2007].