Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Magic of Ferns

In September of 2011, we suffered flooding in my town so badly that our area made the national news. For one night, my neighborhood was cut off on all sides by water. It was heavy in the air. We were saturated with it. Hours before the river levels crested and then fell, I walked the nearby park to find it littered with fungus of all kinds. Many of them I had never seen before and haven’t seen the like of since.
In the aftermath of all of that moisture, one little fern frond sprouted in our yard, just before autumn walked in. The following spring, it reappeared, a handful of fronds. There was something about it that felt like a gift. Ferns are sacred to my household. Ferns and birch. Even my landlord seemed to know to mow around it without having to be told.
For the third year the gentle fiddlehead has returned, a small gang of curls waiting to unfurl. And it speaks to me. Every year I am reminded of the moments that follow painful growth and great change. The stretching out into new spaces. The discovering of new edges. For me the ferns are a promise of possibility, a promise of hope.
Sometimes we need to have symbols. We need totems or guides that mean more to us than what they are. It’s how we move forward when the world seems determined to hold us back. Some days are harder than others, and the darkness chips away at the hope you have managed to hold onto…
Most days are good. Most days are blessed. But we are all human, and we all have days, weeks, months where it just feels like bad news after bad news and sucker punch after sucker punch. I wonder how my ancestors did it, how they found the courage to keep waking in the morning and going about their days when the future seemed so intangible.
On those days I turn to nature. I go with gratitude to our small garden and I put my hands in the dirt, pulling weeds and tending to the growing things. In the working of the garden the world of rushing traffic and ticking clocks slows until it flows invisible around me, air that cannot touch me. There are just hands and the dirt and the sun warming us. The world I am in narrows. My breath slows. My heart grows lighter.

The fiddlehead ferns dance in kind. They allow me to watch their emergence into the world above ground. They appear, coiled in protection as they shield themselves while they discover their new edges and the feeling of air against raw skins. When they are ready, when they are matured, when the time is right, they open themselves to the sun. They turn their fronds to the light.

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