"The fulcrum of this universe may ultimately be a passionate mutuality in which we surrender any separate definition of ourselves and discover that we are who we are together, in a fundamental relationship and communion with everything that is." (Gunilla Norris)
Each season I get to spend a few days “in circle” with some incredibly compassionate and loving people in Vermont Courage Cohort Program. At the spring gathering, we explored “listening,” hearing below the words, and beneath the ground. We read and reflected on poems and extended quotes by John Moffitt, Macrina Wiederkehr, Margaret Wheatley and Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, and listened to music while engaging in creative projects, metaphorically grounding our individual and collective explorations of the weekend’s theme.
One afternoon our facilitators invited us to reflect on a passage by Gunilla Norris (above) and then to pair up with one other person and commune with a favorite place on the land - a threesome of two-leggeds alongside the more-than-human. My soul knew exactly what it yearned for. I wanted to be on my bike.
“Mediated by a third thing,” Parker Palmer observes, “truth can emerge from, and return to, our awareness….” In the saddle of my bicycle I encounter living metaphors, vivid, intense and enlivening experiences in and with nature. Pedaling furiously to Shelburne, up the slopes of Spear and flying down the hill on Webster, I played with the red tailed hawk soaring and kiting above me. In the neighborhoods of South Burlington, the South End and the Hill I smiled listening to children scream with glee against the cacophony of lawns being mowed. Through Red Rocks and Farrell Parks woodpeckers set my cadence, while chickadees marked time with their simple ping-pong, ping-pong. And, on the Burlington Bike Path, with the Adirondack Mountains framing the scene, wafts of honeysuckle tickled my nostrils as I pedaled lackadaisically and pondered the paradox of sweet-smelling, non-native invasive species.
On my bike I listened and heard, saw, smelled, tasted and felt Mother Earth. As the fulcrum of my pedals moved me forward, my soul delighted in communion with everything that is. Atop my wheel, I discovered the passionate mutuality of this triad—two-legged, two-wheeled and the living landscape.
Julie Brooks is a writer, avid cyclist and publisher of Pedal by Pedal, a zine for women cyclist-writers. She is a participant in several WholeHeart Courage Circles and is committed to deep listening, wholehearted living and being in communion with everything that is.