I’ve noticed a lot of cicadas around at the moment and I came across a number of dead and dying ones on a recent walk through the forest.

A lifelong lover of these wild, chorusing beings… I gently and reverently cupped one in the palm of my hand as it beat it’s wings for the last time and then curled it’s tiny legs inward, passing quietly from this form.

Savoring the sweet intimacy of the moment, I laid it gently back on the ground and sat near it’s resting place in the dappled green light of the leaf-filtered sun… humus scented air and the not-too-distant call of a lyrebird…

Not long after i gazed back down at my small friend, only to find that the ants had already set to work.

I love the ways in which the more-than-human world puts death back into context.

The human-made world of plastic, fast food, screens and shopping malls creates a smoke screen that so artfully hides death and decay from view… and creates this illusion that life is somehow fixed and unchanging… but in the forest, you cannot hide from death. Death is everywhere.

In the human-made world, or more specifically- in the culture of separation that most of us are currently embedded in- death is a tragedy, a failure, an experience to be avoided at all costs.
If you are a separate and contained entity, a fixed and unchanging Self- then death is the most terrifying outcome imaginable. But it is, ofcourse, inevitable… and so here enters the insanity of our culture.

I feel like so much of the trouble and pain that is being perpetuated by our species is as a result if this deep split within us- and our inability to reconcile with death.

But in the more-than-human world, you will be hard pressed to find the line between this body and that body… between this death and that life…

The forest is a churning, pulsing, interwoven dance of death, decay and renewal without end…

In the forest, the walls that keep me at a distance from this wild, breathing world break-down a little…
Because here it is clear that the flower of my body is nourished by the soil of yours.

The energy of the world pours through our being everytime we inhale. Drink. Eat…
And our being gives back to the world everytime we exhale. Excrete. Die…

Just take a dump in the Amazon jungle and watch for 5 minutes if you don’t believe me. Nothing is spared, the forest takes it all back into itself.

Where then, is the boundary that delineates where I end and the forest begins?

Could anything ever truly be mine when each breath is a gift of trees half a world away?
When the water in my veins has cycled it’s way around the Earth innumerable times over billions of years?
When this flesh is woven from the lives of countless beings- plant and animal?
When the shape of my body takes it’s direction from the relational experience of every ancestor stretching back to the first burst of single-celled life?
When the warmth of my being comes from a star?

We are all participants in this continuum…in this endless ritual where death enacts life and life enacts death…

We are one unfolding event, taking a responsive form that is revealed and sculpted each moment through it’s participation and relationship to it’s wider context before dissolving again to nourish the emergence of new forms…

I am the cicada then… and the forest that holds the cicada… and the valley that holds the forest… and mountain range that holds the valley…and country that holds the mountain and world that holds the country… and so it goes.

“All of this is my body!” sings the cicada