To Learn from Animal Being by John O'Donohue, in "To Bless the Space Between us: A Book of Blessings". Nearer to the earth's heart, Deeper within its silence: Animals know this world In a way we never will. We who are ever Distanced and distracted By the parade of bright Windows thought opens; Their seemless presence Is not fractured thus. Stranded between time Gone and time emerging We manage seldom To be where we are: Whereas they are always Looking out from The here and now. May we learn to return And rest in the beauty Of animal being, Learn to lean low, Leave our locked minds, And with freed senses Feel the earth Breathing with us. May we enter Into lightness of spirit, And slip frequently into The feel of the wild.
Let the clear silence Of our animal being Cleanse our hearts Of corrosive words. May we learn to walk Upon the earth With all their confidence And clear-eyed stillness So that our minds Might be baptized In the name of the wind And the light and the rain.
I’ve been trying lately to walk with this poem held in my heart. Trying to ‘feel the earth breathing with me’. It’s not so hard to do, when I slow down enough to let my animal self simply be.
Try taking this poem with you to a favorite outdoor spot. Read it slowly, and look around you with eyes ‘looking out from the here and now’. What do you notice? How is this way of looking different from our typical human way of approaching the world?
Read it slowly again. Find a phrase that resonates and feels alive for you. Embody it. Make it come alive. Maybe you feel moved to ‘lean low’, closer to the earth. Or maybe you’re called to lie on the ground or against a tree or stand straight up in the breeze to ‘feel the earth breathing’ with you. Maybe if feels like a time to practice what it’s like to ‘walk upon the earth with confidence and clear-eyed stillness’.
Be curious and explore. What’s different in your body and heart and mind when you’re approaching all from your own animal being?