The Shaping of Rock and Sand: Nature’s Teachings on Love
by Michelle Katz
I stepped out onto the land, crossing a line in the sand, holding the intention to learn about the courage to love.
It’s the time of year when the most bearable time to go out is in the times of great transitions, during dawn or dusk. The moments when light and darkness meet. This time often feels like watching the most intimate exchange. At sunset, the earth turns dark as the sky changes color, figures once illuminated become shadow in the loss of the sun’s illumination. There is a feeling of the much needed rest from the sun’s gaze and at the same time, a longing for that connection that feeds us all so deeply to remain. Yet, we must remember that too much sun can also hurt us, dry us out, burn us, keep us stirring. The sun’s rising can feel like the union between souls emerging again, after a short break. Sometimes, I feel like I am watching two lovers making love after an extended time apart. There is a delicate dance in meaningful connection.
Transition times are challenging, but I relish in the time of year that invites us outside mostly during this time, when it’s not too hot to bear witness to the earth and ourselves. While in other times of year this time would be too cold, too dark, too uncomfortable to linger in, this time of year offers us a gift of sitting more comfortably in the departure of one state and the inviting in of another.
On this one particular night, I walked out to watch the sun and the earth say their goodbyes to each other, watching the delicate way they longed for each other in the changes: color, light, texture, sound, as the earth grew darker every minute. I came to a budding pink flower on a prickly pear, feeling the contrast of soft blossom surrounded by sharp needle yet somehow they fit, they knew each other well, they would both offer their unique gifts in the process of growing together.
In my walking, I felt my love for the land and without a thought took off my shoes-- the land already slightly cooled, the day’s heat turning to the night’s cool. I wondered about how unusual it may seem to find someone walking barefoot in the desert, in the uncertainty of sharp rocks, cacti, and goat-heads. Though, my love for connecting more deeply with the land outweigh any potential risks.
I found myself called to a rock in the sand. I sat beside it. Placing my hand on its surface, acknowledging its cracks, the way it rested in the sand, the small dot pattern of gray, white and black that made up its texture though feeling seemingly smooth.
My dog heard something in the distance, and became alert. She stood up and instinctively moved in front of me so that she was between me and this distant sound—imperceptible to my human ears. She proceeded to sit in my lap, strongly focused on whatever it was she was sensing. I could not help but smile at her communication of love. This most scared creature finding her courage in love.
I use to think about love in quiet a cynical way, wondering why people do this thing which makes us act silly, stupid and more often than not, leaves us feeling hurt.
I returned my focus to the rock beside me, and without much thought, I took a hardy pinch of sand from the ground and playfully piled it on top of the rock. I flattened the pile with my palm and began to spread the sand along the rocks surface. I noticed the feeling of the sand on the rock, the way each grain met the small holes or larger cracks perfectly filling them up. How deeply these two knew each other, how well they fit together. I thought of how the sand surrounded and supported the rock in its place, how likely it was for the rock to have been eroded and create the very sand that supports it. How likely the sand created the texture of the body of the rock. How they can each simultaneously shape each other. And even more amazing to me, I recognize that any of these changes—over large amounts of time—could have only occurred in the process of an ordeal, the wind, the rain, the snow. It is in the transition times that help us in our becoming and help us reveal and form who we are.
The rock and the sand felt incredibly connected, integral to each other’s being, as the sun and the earth at dust and dawn, or the blossom and the cacti needles, or my dog and me, or me and the man I love.
I could not help but think about the courage to love. My cynicism is changing about love. I have come to learn of love as rite of passage—a ceremony, that requires the same two elements of any rite of passage: an ordeal and a community. I remember the adage so often mentioned in the therapeutic world, we cannot heal alone, we need relationship. I have come to believe that to love (in many forms) is to invite in a transition, the dance between light and dark, the season changes that have the winds and water erode us. It invites in growth and learning with each other and about each other, in order to best form us into who we are meant to be as we again and again surrender to the very natural uncertainty of how.
If a part of me will crack and break off or maybe I will find my way by being blown fiercely into a crevice that feels so right that I decide to stay and find home there, creating a new formation of myself joined with another. If a wild ordeal comes along and forces me out somewhere down the line, can I feel able enough to surrender, for the current of love is greater than that of the uncertainty of what may come. Can I play with the changes of coming together and falling apart and coming together again and again like the cycle of earth and sun? Can I sit in my seat with the spines of a cactus around me, still loving the earth everything she contains, and still bloom?
Something comes alive in us in the marking of Love, it is a commitment to grow ourselves and one another. I now know, that is certainly an initiation process that is worth everything.
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