“There are more lifeforms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet.”
Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees describes how soil is the basis of life in a forest.
Glaciers ground fragments of rock down into sand and dust until finally what was left was
a loosely packed substrate. After the ice retreated, water washed this material into depressions and valleys. Or storms carried it away and laid it down in layers many tens of feet thick.
Life came along later in the form of bacteria fungi and plants, all of which decompose after death to form humus. Trees stabilize the soil with their roots and protected it against rains
I know that the word “humus” is the root of the words humour and humility. I didn’t understand that all life is dependent on this humility.
Then I found this passage in Richard Wagamese’ last book One Drum.
“As the Ojibway watched the earth, as they learned her rhythms and her motions, they and other indigenous people around the world, learned that humility is the most powerful force in creation.
Humble beings exist as a matter of fact. They do not draw attention to themselves. They exist quietly they live simply and they simply live.
Out of humility spring the teachings and out of the teachings spring principles. For if humility is the fertile soil from which all things sprout and grow, then principles - those ongoing acts of humility - the relentless march to our highest possible expression of ourselves - are the vegetation of our being.”
Do you see what I saw? Two authors, one a scientist, the other a spiritual seeker, describe the essence of what it is to be “grounded”.
Three ideas worth putting into action:
1. In the rich soil of humility all things grow.
2. Sacrifice is universal and the teachers recognized it as the essential principle
in the perpetuation of the planet and life itself.
3. The spiritual by-product of living a principled life is gratitude.
And finally, a passage from a third book I’m reading. Written in 1886, George MacDonald’s romantic novel The Highlander’s Last Song captures the loss of the way of life of indigenous clans of Highland Scots. As wealthy English bought up their ancestral land, they tore the heart from a culture and replaced it with a purse.
“Do they not respect the rich man because he is rich? And look down on the poor man because he is poor?” said Ian. “Though the rich be a wretch, they think him grand; though the poor man be like Jesus Christ, they pity him.” “And shouldn’t the poor be pitied?” said Christina.
“Not unless they need pity.” “Is it not pitiable to be poor?” “By no means! It is pitiable to be selfish – and that, I venture to suspect, the rich are oftener than the poor.”