by Barbara Sanders
I live in a jungle. I have lived here for most of my life, surrounded by the sounds of insects, amphibians, mammals, birds and trees, all moving, all generating sound, all singing or growling or speaking in languages I may not know.
I hear mating cries of passion and see gorgeous, brightly colored birds attempting to attract a partner. I hear warning cries when danger lurks, whether the weather is changing or a predator is actively hunting. I try to understand the calls and responses and I participate myself, trying to help others know when high risk is close.
Here I see a monkey, a peacock, a baboon, and a jaguar. Here I roam around not so much with fear and anxiety but I do stay alert for the sounds that accompany me wherever I travel. During my wanderings, I am ushered by animals, birds and even the trees which encompass me in the jungle, especially when I step away from my home.
Now, the jungle looks different from the past with its millions of people, its cars and emissions, its noise, its air smoky, and foul-smelling, where we hardly have enough oxygen to breathe. The pandemic keeps people in their homes, apartments or on the street but they don’t see me as I move about. I can see them and some of the horrors they experience, the wacky ways they attempt to communicate with each other. I feel the desire of people who just want to be loved and become a part of something bigger or different than they have ever experienced, perhaps a community where everyone knows that they belong, where everyone is fed and the children are taken care of and educated, and where some people pray and some people don’t. A community where it is fine to feel whatever you feel, whether good or bad, angry or sad, troubled or joyful.
When there is a struggle, it is named and acknowledged, and support flows into the conflict if the two or three involved cannot repair the damage. We all sit and gaze into each other’s eyes and see the truth behind our facades and defenses. We accept our inner spirits and our beautiful souls along with how we have each made mistakes when we have harmed someone or something without ever intending to do so. And, sometimes we have intended to lash out and harm someone or something, even though we feel such guilt and shame about our actions afterwards.
Our jungle is a fertile ground for trying out new and different ways of thinking and living, as if I am not the only person in the universe that I think or care about. That I think about others, plant life, the climate and what I can do to help this jungle become a better world, an easier, more satisfying and healthy place for all people and all forms of life life even though some times get tough.
This is the jungle in Nashville, TN, where I live these days. Where do you live?