Friday, 10 June 2016

Allowing miracles

Wild ginger

The one thing that can keep us separated from God is fear.

Fear comes to us as a matter of course when the intellect is solely in charge. That's because the intellect knows, deep down, that it doesn't have all the answers. Yet because the intellect also believes itself to be the final authority, this sets up a bit of a conflict. Cocky intellect isn't quite so sure of itself as it seems.

We end up in a near-permanent state of low level anxiety, although we are rather good at ignoring it at a conscious level. We most often project that anxiety outward, calling it a fear of something outside ourselves - poverty, cancer, abandonment, death. In reality, it is not the circumstance we are afraid of, it is our inability to deal with that circumstance that scares us.

So when something does go wrong in our lives that we can't cope with, then we turn to the people we believe to have superior intellects, more 'knowledge'. We invest our trust in their authority - even though some niggling doubt might be telling us that their solutions aren't right for us. But what choice do we have?

I'm choosing faith. My heart chose it long ago, in fact it's the default of the heart, but at first my intellect dug in its heels. It needed proof that this is the best choice.

In our society, the intellect is becoming flaccid, like an unused muscle. We feed it 'information', which is the equivalent of junk food. It feels useless and restless and without direction, so it searches for meaning outside, 'in the world', but it can't find satisfaction there. There's another source of our anxiety, an intellect on a search for meaning, for purpose, where there is none. Emotionally, then, (for the emotions are of the intellect/ego, not the heart) we do nothing but long and hunger .. yet we don't know what we're longing for. We place our intellects at the service of other intellects, we have careers, we 'work' - but always, something is missing.

Putting the intellect into the service of the heart gives it a purpose.

I can't tell you what that would mean for you, but I can show you what it has meant for me .. my intellect's duty is to seek out, to understand and teach others the workings of a certain aspect of Creation, which as you are well aware is the plants (and lichens and fungi) that relieve suffering.

Initially, I wasn't aware that my heart was taking charge of things. I became aware of it later when other people tried to steer me away from this study of the medicine plants, or more accurately to change the nature of this study so that faith was replaced by suspicion. The prevalent attitude in the scientific approach to what I do is to assume that there is danger in the plants, that their first order of business is to protect themselves so they are armed with toxins which will do us harm.

My heart knows that's not quite the case, or at least not the most important part of the larger picture. It knows that Creation is designed to act cooperatively. We humans are part of Creation, our bodies and physical senses are designed to know what is safe or not just as the wild creatures do. It's only that our anxious intellects (see above) need some toning up, like un-used muscles.

It's false, of course, to divide ourselves up into intellect/ego vs heart, physical senses vs gut-based hunches with that part we call "I" pulling this and that lever to make each one work. We're designed for all those seemingly disparate pieces to act as a whole. My work with the plants is integrative; my senses tell my intellect about the plants, my intellect then figures out how that would apply to a human body (sort of), my body's response feeds back to my intellect, and all of it runs through the heart-mind.

One of the things I have learned along the way is that the body will serve/obey either the intellect or the heart. Under the intellectual medical paradigm, a fear-full system so convinced the body is inherently flawed, the body behaves as expected. It requires help to function properly and will still, following the beliefs of the intellect, break down no matter how many of the rules for health we follow. When we are ruled by the intellect, that nervous creature, our body will dutifully fulfil our fear-full expectations.

But when the heart is in charge, the body's own inherent wisdom is freed. It heals wounds, adjusts blood sugar and hormones, releases (or safely sequesters) toxins and all the rest without assistance because, as a creature of Creation, that is its default setting. That spontaneous regeneration, if looked at from the outside, seems, well, miraculous. "All" we have to do is allow it to happen.
Red clover

Should that system become overwhelmed, a heart-led body still has wisdom up its sleeve. In the animals, we would call it instinct. It's a built-in ability to ask for what's needed to speed healing or resolve illness from Creation itself. The cravings we feel for sunshine and fresh air, the craving for exercise and/or meaningful physical work are part of this, and so is the craving for bitter greens like dandelion in spring.
Guardian snake

Yet here we are, afraid of sunshine. We've created gyms for our bodies to work out in because we lack meaningful physical labour - our intellects invented all these clever machines so we wouldn't have to work any more, now we need clever machines to work our bodies (I'm chuckling as I write this). And somewhere along the way we started to think of dandelions in our lawns as unsightly, and declared war on them. (not chuckling)

We fear what we fight, of course. In our pursuit of the perfect lawn, weeds became almost mortal enemies. We developed poisons to kill them and oh the irony that dandelion is the one thing we need most to defend ourselves against those same poisons as they come back to bite us in the ... liver.

But I digress.

Thanks to the right teachers early in my life, my heart has always told me that left to its own devices, any piece of land will produce food and medicine plants that are appropriate for the creatures who inhabit it. We're a part of Creation, it is there to support us as much as the ocean supports the whales. No different. Eventually, my heart convinced me that all we humans (who inhabit a certain patch of land) have to do is stop mowing our lawns and up will come the very plants that we need.

Thus began the Great Experiment here in this back yard. Now I know I give the impression that we have land here - and it feels like 'land' - but in fact it measures maybe 1/5th of an acre. Huge to our eyes when we got here, but not what most people would call 'land'. Just a yard.

When we arrived, it was all lawn here. But living by our convictions (for my husband shares them) we searched the lawn for the weediest patches and mowed around them. Sure enough, up came medicine plants - and plants for butterflies and bees and hummingbirds, plants that supported other plants, plants that supported the fruit trees we put in. Everything that came up had a purpose. That's the short version of the last 9 years. We got out of the way and let the miracles happen.
Red clover, stinging nettle, yarrow, dandelion, et al.

Is it a miracle that weeds grow when we don't mow? It is when they "happen" to be exactly what we need to relieve pain. To balance hormones. To knit body and soul back together. It is when they can feed us, strengthen our bones and teeth, help us to sleep soundly, oh, and offer us beauty and fragrance.

When that sort of thing just pops out of the ground at your feet, unbidden, believe me the intellect sits up and takes notice. "Really??" it says, "all this stuff does what??" and in my case it doffed its cap and bowed before my heart, "at your service, my Queen".

As I've said, the intellect is a somewhat anxious creature, and it is protective, too. When I have occasion to dip my toe into (ahem) "the real world" (society, not Creation), where heart-led awareness is a rare thing indeed, my intellect still insists on testing the waters first. It can be pretty convincing when it thinks it has something figured out.

It judges the world on the world's terms, which of course it should. It reports back - but what it tells me must be weighed against the convictions of my heart. This might be how the world works, but is it how Creation works? If I follow this path laid out by my intellect will I be working with or against Creation? Am I mowing my lawn, in effect?


God works through Creation, you see. It is an expression of His moral guidance. All of it. Whether it is the miraculous ability of the body to regenerate after illness or injury or abuse, or the mortality of all living things, whether it is the dandelion leaf saying 'come, eat me!' or the poison ivy saying 'this place is not for you'. It's His voice, His face, His morality. The heart-led human is a part of that.

To me, it is imperative to allow any and all miracles He wants me - all of us - to have access to. The heart-led awareness allows me to see them. The intellect can learn to sniff them out too, but only when it is fully in the service of the heart.

I'm not there yet, quite. I still get my head turned sometimes, especially by fear, so that I look to someone else's intellect for answers. But fear can just as easily keep me turning so that I turn to God.

Makes me think of that line from the Neil Young song - "don't let it get you down, it's only castles burning, just find someone who's turning, and you will come around .."


  1. Dear Christine, I loved this post. I've been being worked on in a particular area. So when you talked about not mowing/spraying and then the plants that come are plants that are needed, well, it reminded me of me. In this world (especially the science realm I walked in for so long), the "heart" person is culled, pruned painfully. I did a good job of it (thriving as pruned). And that's fine. It served a purpose! But now, I'm seeing, it's time to let the "weeds" grow so they're in the right place, at the right time for the right person. But letting the "real me" grow is kind of scary! Because it's not how a science person behaves (well, honestly, even "normal" people don't quite know how to take me, my questions, my curiosity, my talkativeness, my impatience with superficial stuff, my openness, my compassion/love, my ability to share emotion easily)--yet despite my lack of dependence on stats/numbers like my number's based husband, it has ALWAYS worked for me! He laughs at me (culling me/pruning me, as a classic doctor in our chosen field would do, but I always hid it from them!), but he knows that my intuition/my heart is what makes me "smarter" than him. Yet his numbers make him "smarter" than me--we fit together! Anyhow, totally rambling. I just see that applying this post to what I am inside indicates it's time to stop mowing and let go of fear, knowing that others may think it ugly and unkempt, but reaching where I'm supposed to. But it's hard to accept that people think I'm stupid or off my rocker...

    Good post. What do you do with lamsquarters? I have tons in my (unsprayed) garden!

    1. Aw, great comment! Terri, I knew if no one else 'got' this post you might.

      When those 'weeds' first come up, heart-led faith tells us they're there for some reason but we can't know what it is. Are they there for us or the other creatures we share the land with? Food? Medicine? Or are they part of plant succession, necessary to prepare the soil for the next plant, the one that's really important to us? That's where we have to learn to let things be, just observe what is before we jump in with our trowels and weed out what looks like it might be trouble. The garden looks unkempt. People get judgey .. so what?

      The trick is to be willing to look like a fool and laugh at yourself. Taking ourselves too seriously is a sign we're not as heart-led as we believe we are. The heart doesn't care what others think. It checks in with the Holy Spirit, not the neighbour on the other side of the fence.

      Lambsquarters - I always chuckle about those. I used to read Martha Stewart's magazine, and one day I found an article about the newest darling at those hoity toity organic farmer's markets - "wild spinach" they called it. LOL, it was just plain old lambsquarters.

      Don't go trying to eat too many of them raw, they're kind of fuzzy in the mouth. But cooked, anywhere you'd put spinach, they're really nice. If you pluck off the tops of the plants, they'll send off side shoots, so you can get a lot of food out of them before they set seed (which can also be eaten, although I don't, so you'd have to look it up to find out how). I use the leaves, and sometimes the more tender stems, in stirfry dishes, casseroles and soups. They're super-duper nutrition and a good, mild tasting introduction to wild food.

      I'm so glad you've started hanging around here. I love your comments, so real.

  2. Well, I won't hoe out all the lambsquarter then! I'll leave it in the spinach patch and pluck it too! Had no idea!

    That's right. What you say about not being as heart-led as you think if you find yourself not able to laugh at yourself and be thought a fool. I'm going to TRY to stop editing my comments and replies to people. Ha! I always type something, then think, hmmm, that's too over-the-top and spend 15 minutes rephrasing it. Same with my articles. Well, glad we were introduced. A real pleasure.


    1. Believe it or not, I edit myself too ;-)

  3. I always edit myself because I make way too many grammar errors first round. By the way, we have a generous supply of lambsquarter here, but precious little of the other stuff you show. I've seen some rare patches of red clover, but all of that was down along some backroads I no longer visit (out south of my previous residence in Choctaw).

    1. I've just started harvesting the lambsquarters, I slipped them into last night's shepherd's pie. It's not big on taste but it leaves a certain sense of satisfaction as though you just know you ate something that will nourish you right down to the bone.

      Red clover seems to be having a very good year, we don't normally see this much.

      As you know Ed, I edit myself because I swear too much, a no-no in other people's comment sections - right Terri?