Giving back to Nature
Nature heals, soothes, and nurtures us. With gratitude, how can we (busy caregivers) do enough for the environment that needs so much? Every now and then I am inspired by poems and spiritual writings; today I found an answer to this question that I’ve been asking for some time now.
After a pandemic year of family caregiving, during which I drew heavily on nature’s peace to stay centered, be present, and side-step the global experience of fear, I want to give back to Nature with gratitude. But even though my husband is much better, I have a pretty full life, between work and family and care coordination for a couple of other family members with complicated health needs. So I’ve been struggling with how to find the time to take action that supports Nature, also referred to as our environment. Finding time for everything I want to do always takes a bit of work for me – perhaps for you, too?
Today a friend sent me a spiritual reading that eased my mind and my to-do list.
Giving Back: Everything we do matters
If everything we do matters, how am I already “caring for each other” including the animals, birds, and all the earth? I usually try to write what I know from experience; this question took me beyond recent experience into self-reflection into the question of “What do I do?” Bear with me, as there is a point to my self-reflecting rambles that I hope will be helpful to other family caregivers.
Do I care for others? That’s an easy one, as I’m a dedicated nurse and family caregiver. I’m always caring for others, with a current focus on caring for nurses and other family caregivers. What about Nature – the animals, birds, and all the earth included by Rabbi Levy? My heart cares, and I think my actions are caring too.
For example, yesterday we were at a specialty veterinarian practice for an internal medicine and neurology consults for our beloved dog Sammy. (No worries; he has chronic issues but is going to be ok.) Sammy is the most recent of the eleven older dogs we’ve adopted. The vet tech commented on how kind we are; I replied, “It’s what we do.” But it’s more than what we do. We really do care, with kindness, love, and awareness that older dogs are hard to find homes for. And so, for thirty years, we’ve been adopting older dogs.
When I reflect on what I do for the wilder side of nature, I recall that the intention of our yard is to be a sanctuary for local wildlife, free of pesticides and herbicides that would harm them and the conservation land we abut. Shortly after we moved here thirty years ago our yard became a certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Our yard continues to offer shelter, water and native plantings. We care about the deer, fox, groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels and birds that share our yard. Landscape maintenance and decisions are made with them in mind. It’s not fancy, as you’ll see in the photos. It just works for us and for our wild neighbors.
Creating an opening for kindness, love, and awareness
For years, I have been frustrated and feeling guilty that I do not do enough for the environment. From Rabbi Levy, I have now learned that by caring, “We create . . . an opening for kindness, love, and awareness to shine through. And with this the world is renewed.” Family caregivers, this is what you all do – by caring for your loved ones, you create an opening for kindness, love and awareness.
There are many who do so much more, and others that do less. Doing more, my niece and nephew in Florida actively rescue and care for wildlife under the direction of wildlife experts often at their own expense and lack of sleep. Doing more is a nursing organization called ANHE – Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (envirn.org). I’ve attended some informative presentations and am so impressed with what some nurses are doing to protect their communities against threats to clean water and clean air. But I don’t measure my efforts against theirs – I can’t keep up!
So here’s the point: Each of us does what we can. Is it enough to live a caring lifestyle, intentionally living with nature, caring about nature, and within our resources, caring for nature? That’s a question for reflection. I keep learning more ways I can care for nature; reducing our use of disposable plastics is my current project. But today I’m letting go of the feeling that I don’t do enough for our environment. In the words of Louse Hay, “I am enough. I do enough.” And if you care for each other, I think YOU are enough too. Reflect upon what you already do, learn something new daily, and continue to care for the wild ones, the people in your life, and the environment around you. I’ll do my best to continue on as well. And so, “…the world is renewed.”
In peace, Gale
Rabbi Yael Levy About — A Way In