Mother Tongue

Each of us has an entirely personal language, unique unto us just as our fingerprints belong to us only. Most people don’t know this, but it’s true. And the universe speaks our language more fluently than we do. In fact, the universe teaches us our language. In order to learn it, we must of course slow down enough to be able to actually hear it, discern it as something unique and precious and infinitely essential.

Children do this, have you noticed? The way they seem to be talking to themselves, or their dolls, or their legos, or their stuffed animals? (OK, they used to do this, before Video Games and The Internet and Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. And surely some children still do this, I have to believe this.) And they ARE talking to themselves, in a sense, but not the physical selves of this world. They are communing with their inner Selves, their higher Selves, the Self that is connected to the cosmos. And their great gift is that they don’t recognize this Self as a separate self, or perceive it as in any way strange to communicate in this way. How, why on earth, do we lose this capacity? The greatest crime against humanity is that as adults so many of us train our children toward the languages, the conventions, the rules, the laws, the linear, rational ways of thinking and being and acting in the world, and away from the language of the spirit, of the heart, of the soul. Of nature and the cosmos. No wonder that as adults we are angry, frustrated, depressed, confused, dis-heartened, and weary. We are world-weary, weary of the world and its heavy dreary ways and means, the sadness and ugliness and hatred and war, desperately in need of, subconsciously longing for, that magical, irrational, lyrical, mystical, infinitely beautiful experience of connection to the inner realms, the language of the cosmos, which is also the language of our hearts and souls. The world needs a Berlitz course in Cosmologese, with each enrollee’s syllabus being uniquely designed for her or him.

In this course, we first learn to speak the language of nature. Of winter, spring, summer and fall. Of rain and snow and heat and cold. Of rivers, mountains, valleys and canyons. We eagerly study the language of each animal, insect, and plant. Of deer and cricket and dragonfly, of Sycamore tree and sage and cosmos (of course!), of apple tree, tomato plant, and currant bush. We are thrilled with the revelations that occur when we begin to learn the language of seeds. We feel we have unlocked the mysteries of the universe, and indeed we have. But this is just the beginning . . . We now speak a rudimentary language, we have the nouns and verbs, pronouns and prepositions that allow us to communicate in basic sentences. We are naturally eager to add subtlety and nuance, and so we turn to the languages of the senses. We study touch and texture and form, learning to appreciate the different qualities of rough and smooth, silky and sandy, solid and diffuse, clear and murky, the texture of snow that falls in the southern hemisphere and that which falls in the northern. We delight with each new revelation in sound, the music of nature and its infinite nuances in tone and rhythm, the high notes and low notes, the importance of cadence and tempo.

We spend hours, days, lifetimes immersed in learning the minute distinctions between the scent of desert rain and coastal rain. We revel in the delicate, barely discernible fragrance of lilacs the day before they open their petals to infuse the world with their full perfume. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee is now so intense that we can hardly bear the pleasure.

Color is a world unto itself. Of course we start with the primary and secondary colors, but we quickly progress to vermilion and chartreuse, eggplant and aquamarine, puce and azure. We are amazed to discover how many shades of blue there are and delight in experimenting with different combinations of hue and shade and tone.

Our understanding of the stability of nature and the subtlety of the senses prepares us to move onto the language of emotions. We must be firmly grounded in the delights of the earth in order to begin to learn to the particular language of grief and sadness and despair, to understand that we can allow these dark and heavy feelings to simply slide into the river where they will be carried to the ocean where they can nourish the plankton and sea life. And we have to know the language of the wind before we can understand it as a tool that allows anger to move through us without getting stuck and stagnant or harming to those we love. We now know that stroking the silky coat of our cat brings relief when we feel irritated. We intuit that in order to move from boredom to ecstasy we need only to climb the green mossy stones leading from the beach to the cliffs high above where we can feel the breeze freshen our spirit and allow the new horizon to expand our perspective. And, most importantly, we are now able to comprehend, in every cell of our body, that love pervades everything and everyone without exception or discrimination, that it is the background matrix of life itself, the life-giving force of the universe, and that we do not need to do anything to be worthy of receiving it. We only have to recognize its existence, and make it our life’s work to create within and around ourselves a home where love delights in making more love.

We now have the adjectives and adverbs that allow us to embellish our sentences and imbue them with richer meaning. We are so engaged by now, energized and enlivened as we begin to feel the pulse of the universe moving through our veins that we are able to make rapid-fire connections. We understand that color and animal, season and taste, texture and rhythm all overlap and intersect and coalesce and rhyme. We begin to notice patterns and rhythms and repetitions, which become the infinitely complex inner grammar of our new personal language. How could we have previously not noticed the particular quality of the late afternoon sunlight in early autumn that gently paints the northern wall of our living room in subtle shades of amber and grey and soft lilac? Or the whinnying of the neighbor’s horse, the thud of its hooves as it bucks and prances in anticipation of the thunderstorm on a July afternoon? We are now receptive to the subtle messages coming through.

Our awareness of the outer world, our former ‘real’ world, begins to fade and blur and lose its substance and definition. As our cells become renewed and refreshed, re-energized and reinvigorated, we wonder how we could ever have tolerated that other world, where we felt heavy and weary and confused. In this new world we feel buoyant and vibrant and bouncy. We are no longer earthbound, but earth-freed, liberated by the molecules of nature now channeled through our senses.

Having gained a sense of fluency in the languages of the earth and the human senses, we are prepared to launch our Selves into the language of the cosmos. Rooted in the earth, we tune our ears to the whispers of the stars, the roaring of the galaxies, the soothing words of the Milky Way and the mysterious murmurings of the black holes and dark stars. Without any sort of technical instrument, by merely tuning our inner frequencies outward, we are able to understand the most complex workings of the universe that have previously stumped the most brilliant and dedicated of scientists. Ahhh, we GET IT because we feel it in our veins, we ARE IT. It is us and we are it. We are not separate.

2 Responses to Mother Tongue

  1. Lee you truly love this earth and are finely tuned to the frequencies that are always available if we only listen with the ears of the heart and see with the eyes of our hearts. We are one with the Universe and what a tribute you have written on this Earth Day, 2014! Inspiring!

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Photos by Elizabeth Lamoureux