Here in Santa Fe the pink apricot buds are swelling, and finches are nibbling hungrily at the fresh buds. Spring is coming! Though with more frost on the way we may not see ripe apricots this year, at the moment the birds are gobbling up their fresh bounty.
The bounty of the Earth is something to treasure every day. I recall watching a mouse in my patio garden some years ago, poking around for breakfast among crisp autumn leaves. I grabbed binoculars for a closer look. The mouse nosed here and there and then suddenly pounced, seizing a newly dead yellow jacket. It stopped for a moment to nibble on the carcass then, as if it couldn’t contain itself, picked up its treasure and scurried a foot or two away and nibbled some more. Then just as excitedly it scampered to yet another spot for more feasting. The mouse looked for all the world like Bodhi with a fresh bone—so thrilled he can’t settle down in one place.
The mouse came to mind this week while on a meditative or shamanic journey with Bear, my Spirit Helper. Bear was reminding me of the great bounty of the Earth, how it provides moment to moment for each creature. “It’s all a gift,” Bear said, and then used a word I don’t hear very often. “It’s all mercy.” Bear suggested that a good way to live is to be as humble as that small mouse, who knows that every moment is a gift because at any moment one could be snatched for food.
In truth, Bear went on, every one of us is as vulnerable as that mouse. All creatures, from birds to mice to humans to bears, rely on the gifts that become available moment to moment. Humans beings, though, mask our utter dependence on Earth by amassing possessions, by saving and insuring, and by taking credit for our successes—as if they were due to our efforts.
But in fact every moment is a gift. In every moment we are utterly dependent on the gifts of others—gifts of food, gifts of beauty, and of course the gift of life itself, which lies far beyond our ability to comprehend. Every moment we live is a gift handed to us by a bountiful universe.
The truth of the matter is that living on Earth is an exercise in entrusting oneself, moment to moment, to the great gift that is Life.
This means that taking credit for successes makes no sense, and neither does passing judgment for failures. The only truthful way to live, Bear suggested, is with a simple, open heart. Showing mercy to self and others. Being grateful for the gift of each moment. Because only in this way is it possible to see how utterly we rely on the great mercy of the Universe, and only by seeing this great mercy can we enjoy it fully. Opening to the gift makes it possible to feel a complete delight in living.
“It’s all a gift,” Bear repeated. “It’s all mercy.”