An Author's Reflection

As a child, nature was just a ghost to me. It was there, but I truly didn't connect with it. Even as a boy scout, fire wood was just something you burned to keep warm and to keep the "wild beasts" away at night. The sense of the wood coming from something sacred called a tree, didn't register at all. A crystal clear lake was something one swam in for fun. Everything was for "use", my use. The word "appreciation" was by no means a part of my vocabulary. I was totally fascinated though when a neighbor boy told me that his church had taught that before Adam and Eve "sinned" animals were tame and you could hold birds in your hand, or hug a tiger without any worries, and that all of the animals got along together, in essence, like the proverbial lion laying down with the lamb in a Eden-like peaceable kingdom. Despite my other insensitivities, that ember of possibility must have stayed lit in my subconscious.

As a child, because I was very much the early bird, and conversely because my friends always slept in quite late on Saturday mornings I would try find things to do until they were available. It was on one of those Saturday mornings charged with my usual energy that I took my bike on a solitary ride to Cadwalader Park, in Trenton, N.J. It was on one of those mornings that a miracle happened, something that because of the sins of Adam and Eve wasn't supposed to happen. I remember swinging off of my bike as it was still coming to a stop. Leaves were falling around me. No more than fifty feet away a very small squirrel was looking in my direction. Pretending it was before the "Fall" I imagined holding and caressing the squirrel. That is when it happened. The little creature made a bee line right for me. It didn't stop when it got to my feet but ran up my pants, up my shirt, onto my shoulder and then onto my head. As I stood frozen with awe and excitement but not fear, the squirrel climbed down onto my shoulder. My hands seemed to mindlessly but accurately reach for the squirrel. It found a comfortable place between my collar and my neck and made little sounds as it tried to find comfort. It was making a little security nest. I sensed that it was a baby and had lost its mother. It stayed there with my hand gently on it as I slowly walked with the bike, looking through the park to try to find its mother. I looked to no avail. The squirrel had totally adopted me and had no intention of leaving. I brought the baby home with me and my parents permitted me to keep it. I named it "Perry" after the Walt Disney show story "Perry the Flying Squirrel." Perry ate and drank out of bowls and slept in a large squirrel cage that an elementary school teacher named Mrs. Strycarz had given me. I had Perry for a few years until one day we went away for the day to visit relatives. The squirrel cage was outside on what appeared to be a nice summer day. While we were gone however there was a terrible thunder and lightening storm and when we returned, there was Perry lifeless in the bottom of the cage. I was heart broken and angry. I buried Perry in the yard and marked his grave with a tombstone. I lost conscious contact with nature after that for almost fifty years.

Although I had many cats and dogs in the years that followed, and certainly had some affection for them, it was a very limited and semi-conscious affection until just the last twelve or so years. We had already had our beloved chocolate lab named Mocha for almost ten years (I often told him he was my "best four legged friend on the planet" ) when our good friend Sara told us about a book entitled Kinship With All Life by J. Allen Boone. I knew I was re- connecting with the creatures through my relationship with Mocha, but Kinship opened my eyes like they had never been opened before.

Mocha's passing was so difficult because of the wonderful conscious mutual friendship that had developed over the twelve years of his life. Never having had children, the loss of Mocha was as close in comparison as Hazel and I would experience in this lifetime. He visited us in dreams that were so tactile, so virtually real including wetness from his tongue when he licked me to the smell of sweet puppy breath, that when I woke up from that one dream in particular, I was momentarily confused as to whether I was still in this world or had joined Mocha in the next.

Only a few months after Mocha's passing, a new dear one entered into our lives. One midnight, a little flea infested kitty showed up on the sidewalk of our home out in the country. I had just settled into bed comfortably really ready to go to sleep when we heard her. Now four years later she is a dear friend. I have a connection with her similar, but of course unique, to the one I had with Mocha. One of Hazel's dreams portrayed Mocha as morphing into our new kitty friend Amber Lee.

Not long after we had Amber, we went to the big island of Hawaii. It was there that we actually made friends with a tiny crab. That is an amazing story in itself, but the abbreviated version consists of the crab accepting food from us, and eventually waving goodbye. After burying itself with sand, its little claw came up through the sand, waved one last time, and then disappeared beneath the surface. So, I thank God that with such events as these and the gradual forming of new friendships and direct interactions with birds, squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs that are residents on "our" property I have been blessed with reclaiming an interconnectedness with the natural kingdom that I had let go of after Perry died.

When I read that magical chapter nine, Wizard of Tuskegee in the amazing book The Secret Life of Plants, I found a kinship with George Washington Carver, the great scientist, who, in addition to being a devout Christian, also believed in fairies and animism (whether he knew it by that name or not). I was touched and intrigued by this amazing man that Time Magazine referred to as the "Black Leonardo," but I was more deeply affected by an empathic connection to his genuine love of people and creatures.

I sincerely hope that my love and joy in wanting to share this greatly aided and inspired story will reach out to many in the world and touch them and imbue them with, if needed, a renewed love of the natural kingdom. From there it is hoped that the many people of today will perceive what some indigenous peoples have known for ages: God is both male and female, father and mother. Gaia is our earth mother, and all creatures are sacred and intelligent in their own way, whether we perceive it or not.

As polygraph scientist Cleve Backster discovered, the plants are smart enough to not reveal their secrets to those persons who use their own intelligence coldly and for ignoble purposes. He was ridiculed and called a pseudo scientist when he couldn't repeat certain reactions that the plants had exhibited in the sanctity of his laboratory domain. That's when Cleve realized that perhaps like any animal or child, the plants couldn't be coaxed or coerced into "performing" against their will.

George Washington Carver, when asked how he was able to learn from and miraculously heal plants said, "You only have to love them." It is love that will save our world, not merely clever or even super intelligent scientific discoveries, no matter how well intentioned on behalf of the environment. Dr. Carver was sometimes criticized for not adhering to scientific method when he said, "I never bring a book into my laboratory." He claimed that God and nature imparted to him all he needed to know for each day's work as he went on his daily four o'clock in the morning walk in the woods of Tuskegee.

In this story Burden of Privilege:The Secret Life of Geoffrey Collins, the protagonist struggles to make sense of his actual identity and life purpose. In the process of revelation and discovery, Geoffrey is deeply wearied but is told by his mentor Leopa to think of his burden as a "burden of privilege." As with Geoffrey, Eva, Leopa, Tuxchal and the others, we are all on a wondrous journey. There are many predictions and prophecies that point towards either imminent worldwide cataclysm or a global raising of consciousness. I believe that with a sense of gratitude, faith, and conviction, we can help bring about the later scenario and participate in planting the seeds of consciousness for a New Earth.