This morning, on my drive to work, I passed, as I always do, a stretch of land that's recently been cleared of almost every single bush, branch, and shrub in order to "develop" the area with a bunch of townhouses. Seems an odd thing, to me, to be doing in the midst of a real estate bust, when there are already far more homes for sale than people looking for homes, but, Goddess forefend, there was land, just sitting there with trees and plants growing on it, providing a mini-habitat for wildlife, and we can't have that in the Patriarchal States of America.
As I drove past, a red fox, likely drawn out of her den by our unseasonably warm weather, came tearing out of the plot of denuded land, down the steep slope that's already losing soil and becoming way too steep, and into the road. I slammed on my brakes, believing all the while that I was going to hit her, I was sure to hit her, I couldn't help but hit her. At the last possible moment, she turned, quick as, well, quick as a fox, and dashed back up the hill and out of my sight.
And that's grace. That's how grace happens. Grace comes dashing out at you unexpectedly while you are driving to work and making lists in your head of things that you need to do and half-listening to the weather report and -- bam -- there's grace. Suddenly, you're yanked into the real, real, real world and every cell in your body is alive, including the synapses that only synapse in response to what we'll call, for lack of a better word, divinityeverythingimmanencegaia.
I love foxes. I love all the trickster Gods and Goddesses and every culture that has known Fox has recognized her as an avatar of the trickster Goddess. She's sly and she's tricky and she lives by her wits and, damn, she's just so gorgeous. I used to have a fox who visited my yard in the snow, but I haven't seen her in a few years; suburbanites tend to harm foxes.
In his amazing book, As the World Burns, Derrick Jensen tells the story of a young woman who wants desperately to save the world while holding on to her iPod and car and all the accouterments of modern civilization. She keeps trying to "work" the lists of Ten Things You Can Do to Save the World or Fifty Steps to Fight Global Warming. She inflates her tires and washes her clothes in warm, not hot, water, and walks to the store.
And of course, it's not enough. Finally, she does a very Pagan thing. She asks the plants and animals what she has to do to save the world. And they give her at least fifty answers. The manatee tells her, "Stop treating us as your enemy. We used to be your friends!" The ram tells her, "Remember that the natural world is not your enemy. The natural world is the basis of your life. If you don't have a good relationship with it, you'll die." The tree tells her, "You evolved together with us to be with us. You're part of us. Let go of your destructive culture and you'll remember how to live with us and how to be happy." The fox tells her, "You're here as much for us as we're here for you."
I've been thinking a lot about that, about the notion that, while we may have to give up some material things -- such as cans of soda and unthinking access to electricity -- in order to save the world, we might get back something important in exchange: a relationship with the natural world that would, in the end, be more far more rewarding and make us whole. A relationship that might expose us to more regular, and less terrifying, encounters with, say, the red fox, which is to say with grace, than the one that I had today. And, even that encounter, fraught as it was, left me stopping at moments throughout my day, during conference calls and meetings and while digesting pleadings, and looking out the window and whispering, "A fox. I saw a fox. I saw a fox and I didn't harm her."
It's almost the Dark Moon and I'm an old woman who's spent a lifetime learning law and not how to track a fox. I could wander that plot all night and never find the fox's den. But I'd like to find her, offer her some berries, and apologize to her for the scare that I gave to her. I'd like to thank her for bringing grace right out of the denuded land into my morning. I'll go off to my altar and see if I can do it between the worlds.
Hey! Fox! "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about language, ideas, even the phrase 'each other' doesn't make any sense." Rumi said that, that old fox. He might have been talking about that denuded field on Lee Highway, next to the Whitman Walker labyrinth. He could have been.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."