Is Anybody Home?

We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and the winding streams with tangled growth as “wild.” Only to the white man was nature a wilderness and only to him was the land infested with wild animals and savage people. For us, the land was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with blessings of the Great Mystery.

Chief Luther Standing Bear

Do you ever feel at home? Are you sure?

Home is a sense of belonging. When you are home, you are where you belong. You are surrounded by friends and family. You can relax because you feel safe and secure. You are exactly where you need to be.

Most of us today, deep down, don’t feel at home. We think we’re not “out of the woods.” We think most mushrooms are deadly, most plants are poisonous, most germs are dangerous, and most people can’t be trusted. In short, we’re not comfortable with nature, including human nature.

Imagine not feeling safe in your own home. Imagine it crawling with venomous snakes or people “out to get you.” Is life really like that? Is this really a dog-eat-dog world?

Now imagine a world not full of enemies but of family and friends. A world like that feels like home. This sense of home is universal in hunter-gatherer society because it is only natural.

Home is the place with the people and things you care about. You care for them and they care for you. And when you care for others, you take care of them — not because you should but because you want to. You do it because they matter to you.

The word matter comes from the Latin word for mother. When someone matters to you (and vice versa), you have the will and strength to protect them. “We cannot win this battle to save species and environments,” says Stephen Jay Gould, “without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well — for we will not fight to save what we do not love.”

When we love, when we care, we have courage. The word courage comes from the Latin word for heart. When you feel at home in this world, you can open your heart. Until that happens, you operate not from love but from fear. You feel alone in an uncaring world.

When you open your heart, empathy starts. Compassion flows naturally. You are a child of God and you grow up strong, loving, and unafraid. The world is blessed with your presence, and you with it, once again.

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.

Rachel Carson

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