by Kiva Rose
As large as the universe outside, even so large is the universe within the lotus of the heart. Within it are heaven and earth, the sun, the moon, the lightening, and all the stars. What is in the macrocosm is in this microcosm.
A grain of dust contains the whole universe.
The weather sways back and forth between balmy and frozen, and changes with every new wind that sweeps through the canyon. The plants love the cooler temperatures though and underneath last season’s dead grasses, new greens are flourishing. Up here on the mesa, magenta bloomed verbena. wild mustards, pink flowered filaree and the tiny silver starts of new mugworts are coming up everywhere. Down by the river, the watercress is spreading and the mountain nettles are a vibrant shade of green.
Even as the cottonwoods shed their last golden leaves, new life unfurls. I love this spiral of seasons that is so obvious here in the mountains of the Southwest. The cycles of nature close together, overlapping and interlocked through the language and lives of the plants and animals of this place. The mating of the Elk has come and gone, but the coyotes still sing like its a midsummer party every morning. Yesterday, a tiny red feathered canyon wren hung from the outside of my den window frame, peering through the glass at me as I gazed back. She stayed there for several minutes, turning her head from side to side in some unspoken question before flying off to glory in the afternoon warmth.
Roused by the little bird’s call to the outdoors, I wandered out to sit in the sun and watch the last butterflies migrating south on a gentle breeze. Down in the dirt, new green leaves were uncurling towards the light and a few bugs rushed this way and that, in a seeming rush to their haul food home. When I laid my head on the ground, I could hear the river in the rocks, vibrating and singing through the rough the timbre of volcanic stone. It struck me as nothing short of shocking how very easy it is to miss what’s going on around all the time — and what a terrible loss it is to not participate as much as possible in these precious, ever changing moments. Sometimes participation simply means listening, noticing, and being aware of how we are a part of all these tiny, amazing happenings, and sometimes it means becoming an expression of the same source. Of letting the music rush through us until it becomes song, or doing whatever work is required to keep the land healthy and whole.
I’ve always found relief and familiarity in the mandala like perspective of the microcosm. As much as I love and value the view from a high tree or mountaintop, I love the experience of the up close flash of bird wings or the endless worlds within flowers even more. The many shades and textures of dirt and sand delight me, as does every crevice and ravine within the rough ridges of cottonwood bark. I spend an inordinate amount of my time in the forest down on my belly watching the insects and smallest plants, fully immersed in the magical world so often found at our feet. It’s a universe easily forgotten when inundated by a culture fixated on the larger than life, on billboards, breast implants, supersized meals and “20% more for free” beverages. In the unquenchable quest for more, better and bigger we often neglect the perfect grace and depth of the present moment and the details and necessity of of the small.
In nature, small (so much as to be invisible to our limited human vision) equals the importance of all things large. Bacteria, bugs and fungi create the foundation for our existence and slippery skinned amphibians both illustrate and impact the health of our ecosystems. Whole ecologies may collapse or be forever altered by the loss of a single strain of bacteria or pollinator species. Truly, the health of ourselves and our planet depends mightily on the tiny critters we often find so easy to dismiss, medicate away or sterilize into annihilation.
In the same way, it’s too easy to think that we as individuals are too small, too isolated to make any difference in the bigger picture. That our trivial decisions and one person choices can’t really matter. In reality, all things are not equal and the force and intensity of our feelings and actions DO have the ability to shift the very balance of the world. Just as our planet’s health is intimately connected to minute bacteria, frogs and plants, our society and environment is deeply impacted by every small change we make and every voice that stands out from the rest and takes the chance to redirect the flow of energy, and history. The microcosm and the macrocosm are reflections of each other, and a change in one inevitably results in a change to the other. In a world populated by nearly 7 billion people, the individual is a microcosm. And like flowers, we have a universe within us, and the power to ripple out into the rest of humanity, the natural world, the all…