What I love about Orland's comment, above, is that it redirects our attention from frantic problem-solving to a focus on cultivating the specific consciousness with which to meet these times. His words are a gentle challenge to go beyond crisis functioning to cultivate, instead, a field of welcome for a benevolent flourishing. Renewable energy, toxic cleanup, putting an end to mining and waste become what they are: the tangible structures and systems that demonstrate our gratitude for all that the Earth and the spirits have given us.
Hospitality and hospice come from the same Latin root: hospes, meaning both guest and host. Hospitality and hospice, guest and host, are companions on the continuum that expresses the dual primacy of nourishment and death in feeding the cycle of life. But what and whom are we creating hospitality for? Who are we becoming as givers?
A few weeks ago I woke up with a nightmare. In the dream, I have witnessed the murder of people I love, and I realize that the killers are now coming for me. At the last moment, a voice says, The whole point of this dream is to practice showing love unequivocally in the face of brutality, no matter what. It's the only way to stop the violence. I search for that sensation of benevolence and unshakeable love, but I don't feel it. All I feel is paralysis, failure and despair.
A month or so later, I asked Orland for help in understanding the dream and responding to it. He said, simply, "There are Beings of Light that are waiting to come through us." As I picture them hovering nearby, I hear the unspoken portion of his good counsel: Our task it to get out of the way. We don't have to do it all by ourselves. We can't.
As I toggle from the real-world calamities unfolding around us to the deeper recognition of the hospitality that Orland articulates, it is helpful to return to the literal ground we stand on, the intricate systems beneath our feet: microbes, bacteria, fungi, viruses all have a vested interest in keeping life going. If a plant dies, microbes die, and vice versa. Microbes are continuously working together, interacting and communicating with plants and animals, soil and water to protect and enhance life. For us humans, as for all animals, this includes the millions of mites and bacteria on the surface of our skin (yes, even after washing) to our organs, our bellies and the microbes in our food, air and water. It is as true for the insects with whom we share the biosphere, as it is for the oceans, soil and weather that comprise it. I would dare to add that this same axiom applies to the spirits of the dead, the unborn, and the Beings of Light that Orland refers to. In the words of Australian soil ecologist Dr. Christine Jones, There is no such thing as an individual organism.
Like the soil, we are practicing both hospice and hospitality, releasing that which must die while tending to what is essential in order to nourish the new time. In the process, we become a living invitation, as we prepare the feast, make the beds and fluff the pillows of our souls in order to welcome the weary travelers that we are.