Earth Etude for Elul 25: Bees, Fireflies, and Stars
by Ruah Swennerfelt
~ The bee was busy, humming around me and traveling from flower to flower, while I was sitting and weeding. I stopped my work to take a closer look and was amazed to see that, as the bee dove deep and touched a certain spot in the flower, the flower reached its stamen up to the bee’s butt and deposited some pollen. This interaction occurred again and again. I saw so clearly how the bee and the flower miraculously co-evolved for them each to survive. I stopped my weeding task and sat still, contemplating this complex planet of ours and the wonders of how all of life is interconnected.
I’m aware of how easy it is to be disconnected from the natural world since we are so busy in the human-built world. If we don’t stop from our busyness and step out into all the abundance that surrounds us, we forget that we are only here by the grace of Mother Earth. That experience of watching the bee helped me turn back to Earth and to give over my life to protect and embrace her. Although I was already an environmental activist and my paid work was for a Quaker environmental organization, the experience deepened my connection to Earth and grounded me.
Another experience that also shaped my life’s commitment to Earth happened on a June night before the moon rose. I noticed that stars were so bright and abundant as I was driving along my little road that I felt the urgent need to get out of the car, lights off, and look up to the sky. But my eyes were drawn to the fireflies that were also abundant in the field. As I slowly walked away from the car, I was surround by the fireflies and I couldn’t tell where the stars ended and fireflies began. I was floating in the universe and understood that, although I was just a speck in the whole, I was also an important speck, one that was connected to everything, one that had always been part of it, one that would always be.
These two extraordinary experiences remind me to regularly get out of the built environment, learn from nature, take an accounting of my mistakes, and take actions—both small and large—to protect all that is suffering on our beautiful planet Earth.
Ruah Swennerfelt is author of Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith. She is a Quaker and homesteads in Vermont. She is President of the Transition Town Charlotte board, serves on the board of Vermont Interfaith Power & Light, and is active with the New England Resilience & Transition Network and Transition US.