There have been times in my life when I’ve felt like I was cradled in the gentle arms of Gaia. One of my favorite childhood pastimes was lying in the grass, feeling the earth supporting my body, and the sun’s warmth soaking through me. At such times it was easy to feel Gaia’s peace—the sense that all was right with the world.
I’ve tried to partner with Gaia in caring for the creatures and for the earth. So when my husband, Michael, and I bought a wetland/woodland in Western Washington, I was determined to respect the creatures that called it home.
Caring for this partly wild place was labor intensive but not really difficult. If I meditated for a few moments before working on an area, Gaia sent me clear messages about which plants needed to be pruned or moved and which needed to be left alone.
As the years passed, the birds and other creatures came to know that we wouldn’t harm them and that many of the things we did helped to maintain a safe place for them. Their presence also benefited us in many ways. The birds often sang with me when I brought my guitar outside. The Western gray squirrels’ comical antics made me laugh.
When my own cat disturbed their tranquility, the jays and squirrels came to me, uttering their special, “Cat! Cat” call to alert me that my cat had invaded their privacy, insisting that I restore peace.
How can we practice Gaia’s peace in our daily lives?
1. Remember that peace is more than a word. It is a presence and, sometimes, a command.
One summer morning as I was watering what I call our far back garden, behind the wetland area, a cloud of mosquitoes rose from a dewy bush. Scenting the carbon dioxide my body was dispersing, their instincts told them that a food source was nearby. Thinking quickly, I stepped toward them, raising my hands.
“Peace!” It wasn’t a suggestion.
I clapped my hands, and repeated, “Peace! Go and feed somewhere else.”
And, to my surprise, they did.
2. Challenges to peace must be met.
When a mallard duck hen chose to nest on a tussock of grass in the middle of our wetland, our dog was wild with excitement. He leaned out over the edge of the water as far as he could, his nose working furiously. Though he knew better than to hunt ducks, the nearness of the nesting hen was more than he could bear.
I put up a fence along the waterline, then called him to me.
“Listen, Rizzo,” I said, patting his silky head, “the ducks trust us. This place is safe for them. We need to leave them alone. Leave them alone,” I repeated for emphasis.
As the weeks passed, he learned to make a wide berth around the fenced area. I like to think that he respected the ducks as much as I did, but it was more a matter that he respected his connection with me enough to override his natural instincts.
3. Maintaining peace has many benefits.
As the birds and other creatures came to trust me, they allowed me to share their daily lives. Bewick’s wrens followed me around the property, chirping. Black-capped chickadees called to remind me to fill the feeders. Pacific chorus frogs used the sage leaves in my garden as hideouts to ambush insects.
All welcomed us into their lives, sharing friendship and of peace.
How have you experienced Gaia’s peace in your life lately?