Touched by all that love is
I draw closer toward you
Saddened by all that love is
I run from you.
Surprised by all that love is
I remain alert in stillness.
There, in the dirt, was an empty hole. Just the day before, there had been a thriving plant commonly called lamb’s ear. I looked at the hole, feeling sadness. Across the continent and an there are holes that once were homes, places of worship and schools, not to mention the accompanying absence of humans, animals, and even plants.
I was grateful for my attachment to this lamb’s ear. Its disappearance gave me a way to just pause and honor the underlying grief around the small and big losses of the world. The plant had been a daily reminder to be gentle and kind. The presence of this plant reminded me that gentleness, kindness and generosity thrive in the midst of the more visible malice and disregard.
The furry leaves of the lamb’s ear always seemed like an invitation to bend down and greet them as I passed by. My greeting was merely touching the soft and velvety leaves. But, within that touch, I felt living gentleness and peacefulness. This brought the reminder of a quote that I had heard long ago by Robin Wall Kimmerer that in some Native languages, the term for plants translates as “those who take care of us.”
The caring is most often that which is visible and recordable. Hummingbirds, bees and other insects regularly visited this lamb’s ear for nourishment. With antiseptic and other recorded medicinal capabilities, the caring could have extended to a temporary wrap over a wound, or a soothing cup of tea. For the animal – likely a gopher given the dirt mound next to the hole – the caring was a full meal.
I feel the lamb’s ear had taken care of the inner me. To reach toward the plant was a gesture of humility – I needed to bow down and let go of my acculturated human ideas of superiority and separateness from other beings. Within the tactile connection there was the grace of loving joy upholding the preciousness aliveness of all life, regardless of label, shape, hue, texture, or sound.
The daily touch of the lamb’s ear gave me innumerable gifts. Most importantly, it was the gift of a sense of the power of living with gentle presence.
This practice supports awareness of gentleness.
- Standing or seated, with your thumb slowly and lightly massage the base of your fingers, and then the palm, of your other hand. Then, with both hands – and again lightly – make small squeezes up the opposite arm simultaneously. Starting with your wrists, move upward over your forearms, elbow, upper arms, shoulders, and upper part of your torso.
- Give yourself a couple hugs – changing the cross of your arms (i.e., left arm on top for one and right for the other). If you wear glasses, please remove them for this next movement.
- Lightly massage the back of your neck, your ears, and scalp. Then, lightly move your palms across your face as though you are washing it.
- If comfortable, stroke your torso, your arms one more time, and your legs. When you are done, feel free to stretch, yawn, or moving in any way you feel inclined.
- If standing, please find a comfortable seated position. Invite an awareness of the parts of your body touching the surface beneath you – e.g., chair, bench, cushion, floor, earth. In your mind’s eye, freely scan the entire area where your body and the surface beneath you are touching – without judgment, just noticing the sensation of sitting.
- Lightly rest your fingertips and palms on the surface beneath you.
- Invite an awareness of all earthly life being supported by our collective planet, whether sitting, walking, resting, slithering, crawling, swimming, or alighting.
- Stretch your arms out to your sides. (Note: please adjust as needed, being attentive to the current capacity of your shoulders.)
- Invite an awareness of touching the air and space around you.
- Breathe in deeply, and imagine you are reaching out from the center of your back through your fingertips.
- On exhale, lower your arms and allow your hands to rest wherever they are comfortable. Invite awareness of all earthly life – including you – similarly being held and nourished by air and space.
- Place one palm and then the other over the center of your upper torso in the area called the heart-center. Bow your head slightly.
- Invite an awareness of the touch of your hands on your torso. You might softly add a light pressure of your palms with a sense of loving reassurance that deep within there is steady, loving support wishing you safety, health, ease, and peace. If comfortable, invite awareness of this unseen support gently caring for all earthly life – including you.
Transition Back into Your Day—
- Place your hands wherever they are comfortable. And then, sit quietly for as long as you wish.
- When you feel complete, return to your day.
This poem appears in Mala of Love: 108 Luminous Poems, page 73, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2022.