Mind in the Waters by Joan McIntyre (excerpt)

There was a time in our culture, not long ago, when the essential role of men and women was to nurture and protect each other, to be the caretakers of life and earth. At that time, when the sun sparkled on the sea of our imagination as freshly as it sparkled on the sea herself, we thought of our world and each other in ways which were life-venerating and death-respecting. The porpoise school that weaves its history protectively around its common existence, the whales that tune body and mind in a continuous awareness of life, are not symbols of an alien mythology-they are evocative of what was once the core of human relationships.

Animals were once, for all of us, teachers. They instructed us in ways of being and perceiving that extended our imaginations, that were models for additional possibilities. We watched them make their way through the intricacies of their lives with wonder and with awe. Seeing the wolf pick his delicate way across the snowy forest floor, the eyes of the owl hold the image of the mouse, the dark shape of the whale break the surface of the sea-reminded us of the grand sweep and diversity of life, of its infinite possibilities. The connection of humans with totemic animals was an essential need to ally ourselves with the power and intelligence of hon-human life, to absorb some of the qualities bestowed by the evolutionary process on other creatures.

Whales and dolphins-all Cetaceans-are intensely interesting to us now. They seem to speak for a form of consciousness we are beginning to re-explore in our own inner natures. They help us chart our interior wilderness. We can hear whales singing. If we pay attention and let them live, perhaps we will hear them speak, in their own accents, their own language. It would be an extravagant reward to experience, by empathy, a different band of reality.

We are animals of the land. They are animals of the oceans. We have hands to move and mold the things of the earth. They do not. But with an intelligence imagined as grand as ours – what do they do? What can they do, with mind imprisoned in all that flesh and no fingers for releasing it?

I have stroked, and swum with, and looked at these creatures, and felt their essence rise to meet me like perfume on a spring day. Touched by it, I felt gentler myself, more open to the possibilities that existed around me. There may be only one way to begin to learn from them-and that is to begin. We would not be harmed by returning to the roots which once nourished us, which still, unseen, link together all life that lives, and feels, and things and dies, on this, our common planet.

Excerpted from Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose & Poetry about Nature

~ by Tichaona Chinyelu on July 6, 2012.

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