I am a living witness to the destruction of my home, the Earth. In my lifetime I’ve watched helplessly as forests are cut down, waters are polluted, thousands of animal species are threatened or go extinct and pandemics are becoming a normal part of life. Scientists warn that even humans will soon join the threatened species list if they don’t take swift action to turn the tide of death and destruction.
I’ve planted a few trees, but it seems hardly enough against the hundreds of acres cut down all around me for ‘development’ and economic gain. I stopped eating meat but that hasn’t reduced the number of cattle being kept in the cruelest conditions imaginable in massive cattle yards out west. I recycle but dolphins continue to die from plastic poisoning.
I want to make a difference. The idea of being some kind of Earth Warrior is ringing in my head. I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve read books, searched the Internet and taken long walks to think and pray. As I understand it, all over the world warriors are waking up to their purpose of saving the planet, of healing its wounds and healing the beings who live here. They are Light Bringers, Way Showers and Wisdom Keepers. As crazy as it sounds, I think I might be one of these new warriors, meant to join this tribe of planetary healers. But I also feel completely unqualified and unfit for the job. How am I to learn the wisdom and methods of fulfilling this sacred purpose?
The question nags at me. So, I do what I always do when a question or a problem sticks in my head—I go for a long walk. The sun is bright and warm, not a cloud in the sky. The road is even and straight, allowing my thoughts the freedom they need to flow uninterrupted.
Somewhere along the way between thinking of deforestation in the Amazon and how to make political leaders enact more eco-healthy fishing laws, I realize I’m no longer on the road. I’m walking through a meadow of wildflowers with their sweet scent filling the air. The paved road is now a grassy path through a carpet of ferns. I look around in wonder twinged with a little trepidation. Maybe I’m lucid dreaming. Maybe I’ve literally walked through some kind of wormhole. I don’t know, but I keep walking. The path comes to a small, curved bridge over a stream. I don’t hesitate but cross the bridge. Beyond the stream I enter an old growth forest and wander between ancient oaks, shaggy maples, berry laden hawthorns, peeling birches and lots of trees and bushes I can’t identify, rooted deep in the earth and in full leafy bloom. I scramble over a downed trunk whose carpet of moss has sprouted its own fungi forest. Birdsong and a breeze through the trees offer a symphony of nature music. Sunlight sparkles through the canopy, and the forest dances in shadow and light. Magical!
I take a deep breath, filling my nose and lungs with the smell of rich, loamy earth and the spicy, sweet tangle of flowers and trees. I stop to pick a blackberry. Its smooth, ripe skin pops against my finger, leaving a purple tattoo on my thumb before I put it into my mouth, savoring its juicy sweetness.
Movement in my peripheral vision startles me, but when I turn, all I see is a blur of green and
brown. Must be a squirrel moving through pine branches. Except there is no sound. Strange.
The sound of falling water urges me on and the forest grows a little thicker and darker. The noise of the water grows louder as I keep going forward. The path curves through a stand of balsams. I close my eyes and inhale the herbal scent. When I open them, it is to behold a series of cascading waterfalls, dropping incrementally from a high ridge into a blue pool of azure water at its base. Three rays of sunlight point through a thick canopy to dance upon the pool. Silver shards glint as a small fish splashes in the water, leaving ripples in its wake.
The screech of a hawk in the opposite direction steals my attention from the pool. Instinctively, I follow the hawk, catching sight of his broad, brown wings in the sky above the forest. The path switchbacks up the ridge and I hurry to keep the hawk in earshot. Another flash of brown and green flutters in the corner of my eye, but when I turn, it is gone again. Must be the light and shadow playing tricks on me, I think. The path pulls me forward until I top the narrow ridge. The view below is beyond breathtaking.
Nestled in the hollow, between the ridge I stand on and the next spine of hills, is a tiny hamlet. Smoke curls from several chimneys on cabins worn and gray with age. A wigwam stands at one end of the hollow and I notice a man, bent with age and long silver-streaked black hair, scraping a hide in front of the shelter.
On the other end of the street an old woman rocks in a chair, smoking a clay pipe on her front porch. A young girl weeds a vegetable garden while a brown-skinned man sits on a tree stump playing a banjo and singing to some children. Idyllic, and like no place I have ever seen.
I don’t know where I am or how I got here but my heart- and my feet- lead me forward, as though I’m on a date with destiny, and I hurry down the ridge to meet these folks.