I was aching to go camping and spend a few days in digital detox when my friend, Mary Margaret, brought up taking a pilgrimage to see some huge old live oaks. I spent the next few days camping at the Santee Coastal Reserve, a real treasure of 24,000 acres that includes wetlands, rice field impoundments, a forest of ancient live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, cypress swamp, longleaf pine ecosystem, and old plantation ruins, just to name a few of the gems in this veritable Disneyland of Nature. The wildlife was incredible, and I took comfort in carrying my walking stick in case we came up on some ‘gators.... and we did come up on some ‘gators.
I am so in love with the rhythm of the low country, softly swaying. Humid and gentle and fertile, expansive, teeming with life, the sticky gooey womb that gives life to the ocean and the lowcountry people who are nourished by blue crabs, fried fish, oysters, and shrimp & grits.
While walking out on the grid of dykes that edge the Santee River, I was struck by how intertwined the story of the land is with the story of the South, in a Pat Conroy-esque kind of way.
Walking out on a rice impoundment beside some plantation ruins made me think of slavery and the lives of the people out there, bent over working in the hot sun with the alligators day in and day out. What would cause a person to feel the need to own other people and deny them freedom or rights? I imagine it would have to come from a place of deep scarcity.
I couldn’t help but wonder...What if we lived in a world where no one felt the need to conquer, enslave, exterminate, or compete for resources, a world where there was enough for everybody to be satisfied?
I got to reflecting on the richness and abundance that arises from nature. The fact that just one sunflower can produce 1,000 seeds... and each of those seeds can grow another sunflower that produces another 1,000 seeds... and each of those thousand can create another thousand. I’m no mathematician but you can see the exponential increase inherent in just one little seed!
I’ve been listening to Charles Eisenstein’s Course called Living in the Gift (which I highly recommend, by the way). He says “Nature is fundamentally abundant, even profligate... [regarding birds] Do they have to sing that much just to mark their territory and attract a mate? It is as if they are bursting with the desire to give their song, just like you are. You were born for it, whatever your song is; you were born to sing it. Do the wild black raspberries here have to taste that good to attract animals to eat them and poop out their seeds? Or is this a part of the gift, the abundance, the magnificence, the profligacy of life... Don’t you have the urge within you to create something beautiful, to expand your capacities in doing that to their full potential and to express them in service to something magnificent? That is you.”
I thought of this, at sunrise, walking on a dyke along the Santee River and hearing a symphony of birdsongs. I watched the little redwing blackbird take his place in the sun and sing to celebrate the dawn of another day, to his tiny little heart’s content.
My Mother shared with me this poem by Victor Hugo...
Be Like the Bird
Be like the bird, who
Halting in his flight
On limb too slight
Feels it give way beneath him,
Knowing he hath wings.
Special thanks to Mary Margaret Folds for her inspiration for this trip and her exquisite company thereabouts.