Did I mention I love CONNECTION? Well I do. A connection I am especially grateful for right now is the relationship between my academic endeavours and my daily passions. For example: I get to Blog as a weekly assignment for my Art of Mentoring and Deep Nature Connection Course. What’s more is it’s all about being outdoors! Did I mention I like being OUTDOORS? So here is my first entry. Stayed tuned for more … 😉
Question of the week: What is a mentor?
“One, two, three…” shouts a young voice, as a flock of children breaks into different directions. Some crunch their way through shrubs; a few climb up trees and others hide between houses. At one time in my life it was a daily, after-school ritual to gather as neighbourhood youngsters and play outside. These were also the days of building tree-forts, catching tadpoles, and picking salmonberries for Mom’s amazing pies. I feel so blessed to have grown up free to run around in a giant jungle of wild.
I grew up in cooperative housing, with a backyard (including lawn, forest, creek beds, hills and swamps) the length of 50+ units. We were encouraged to be outside exploring until at least dusk. Of course there were boundaries, created by the adults, which we occasionally danced along…we would nervously search for the “coyotes” that lurked on the other side, hoping (fearing) to stumble across their den.
Who were these coyotes anyway? Their howls were both haunting and luring in the late hours. Occasionally the neighbours’ pets would go missing- was it Coyote, or did they run away? My cat Orca (well…the cat that occasionally chose to eat our food and sleep in my bed) would go missing for weeks, then suddenly show up again. This gave me hope that other pets weren’t always food for Coyote. Cats are clever explorers! Once a coyote briskly followed my off-leash dog, Peppy, and I all the way back to our yard. I was amazed at Coyotes courage to come so close to “our” human world…
These days I witness so many people terrified of the mysterious, magical music of the Coyote clan. It’s an unfamiliar song in the cement jungles, which echo engines and sirens amidst the dull street lights. People know of Coyote (and Cougar, Rat, Slug, Spider) as disturbing and invasive critters, meant to stay far from the comfort of their walls. The fear of letting our children run outside is both real and perceived…they could be hit by a car, abducted by a stranger or mauled by a rabid animal.
This morning I was blessed to watch the sunrise in a contained, yet wild, vegetable garden. In this sacred space, lush stalks of bamboo establish perimeters and a sense of refuge. Hummingbirds joyously flit between blossoms, enjoying both a native and exotic smorgasbord. Red, the chicken, eats Wonder Berries from my hands, through loose wire fencing. The smell of tomatoes, kale, lemon and basil fill the air, calling to be devoured. Crow harvests walnuts, then brings them to the power-lines around front. He drops them on the road, waiting for the cars to run over them. He gathers the delicious brain-food, unveiled.
What juicy edges! Where the shell cracks open; where the garden meets the pavement; where the mulch blends into rich soil, green shoots lining the neighbours fences; where the beaks cross wires and pollen; where the colourful sunrise invites the morning chorus to celebrate a new day; and where the breeze kisses my cheek; is the space that both contains us and calls to our curiousity.
How do we create the containers that provide us safety within the wild and still allow us to feed upon the ripe unknown? This is the role of the mentor- one who is aware of these edges and has experienced both sides; one who holds those edges gently, moulds them to envelope our sense of comfort, while enticing the inner child to look (step?!) beyond. A mentor observes, practices, inspires and plays. Mentors can be found dancing on the bridges that connect the wild with the familiar…where people, animals, plants and spirit gather with abundance and protection.
OK, so I’ll go hide, you count to 100. Pssst, come over here, I think I see something magnificent…it’s just right on the boundary line. Shhhhh, do you hear that? Imagine Coyote was not an unwelcome noise, lurking in the dark for his next victim. Imagine Coyote is howling an invitation to come out and witness the delicious sunrise!