Introduction to the book Space Between the Stones

I’m not exactly sure where these poems come from. I can’t pinpoint the location on a map or trace the route via a blue dot on a screen. I do know that when I’m quiet enough inside, I find them in surprising places—not just leaping out from the obvious splendors of a brilliant sunrise or a blooming cherry tree, but also patiently waiting to be discovered in ordinary objects like an old clothesline or new swim goggles. And while I can’t command poems to appear, I can create the conditions that make their appearance more likely—just as if you sit still long enough in the forest, birds and other wild creatures may come near.

With few exceptions, these poems come through when I’m alone in a peaceful, natural setting—perhaps lying under a tree and gazing up into the canopy, or sitting on a boulder and watching a stream flow. They arrive when I have enough inner stillness to receive. A few words gently tug at me in a distinctive way that signals their desire to be in a poem. I listen and feel for what wants to come through, writing down the words as they emerge. With practice, I have learned to walk hand in hand with the spirit of the poem, rather than running ahead to where I think it needs to go. When I do this, magic happens. I experience direct communion with something much greater than myself, a powerful sense of being guided with exquisite grace and wisdom. I feel profoundly peaceful, and know that I’m exactly where I need to be.

Writing in this open and receptive way is fairly new for me. For decades, I wrote primarily on assignment for non-profits advocating for just and sustainable food systems. My writing was competent and reliable, but not especially adventuresome or original. It showed up on time and got the job done, but rarely surprised or inspired anyone—including me. If my writing were a person, I might have hired it to do my taxes, but wouldn’t have gone on a date or a road trip with it. 

During that time, I had a vague inkling that I might have untapped reserves of creativity lying around somewhere, but no clue where to find them. They were like a box of colorful, exotic clothes buried in a storage unit that I had misplaced the key to years ago. This missing key came into my hands quite effortlessly when I took a sabbatical and began spending extended quiet time in nature. It was a time of transition, and I was seeking clarity about my next path of service. I had a strong intuition I would find it by listening to the natural world.

So, instead of going out with friends and talking most of the time, I went out solo and tuned into the sights and sounds of nature. Instead of staying in perpetual motion, I sat still or lay down on the Earth for extended periods of time. I practiced listening deeply to nature, not just with my ears, but with my mind, body, heart, and spirit. 

I listened, and the Earth spoke. 

I found my new path of service in guiding people into more mindful, intimate, and healing relationships with the natural world. And I discovered a vast wellspring of creation that gave me many unexpected gifts, including hundreds of poems. In just a few months, my lifelong relationship with writing went from pleasant and predictable to profound and passionate.

Most people would say I wrote these poems, and in a narrow sense that is true. Yet I did not write them alone. I co-created them with mountains, trees, birds, and many other generous collaborators in the 

more-than-human world. I wrote them as part of a beautiful and mysterious flow of creation that became accessible to me through my deep communion with nature. These poems are the fruit of a sacred love triangle between myself, Earth, and Spirit—one in which I am by far the smallest edge, yet essential for conveying them into tangible form.

I think of this as an “Earthly Trinity” of Earth, Spirit and Self, a trio of original bonds that are both profoundly sacred and readily available. When we honor and tend these bonds, we have access to powerful support and abundant reserves of natural intelligence and creativity. We can remember who we are and why we’re here.

The poems in this volume speak to the place within each of us that experiences direct communion with Earth and Spirit, or at least senses it is possible. The practices help you to find your own unique paths to deepening these connections. Together, these poems and practices remind you that you are never truly alone, but part of something vast and beautiful. They reveal that simple pathways, walked regularly, will strengthen your core connections and help sustain you no matter what comes. 

We live in chaotic and challenging times, with unprecedented threats to the future of life on Earth. We all need ways to stay grounded and nourished, to find glimmers of hope when we are discouraged, to restore our strength when we are weary. Tending our original bonds with Earth and Spirit is one of the best ways we can remain resourced, resilient, and creative in trying times. 

May we learn to live in peace and balance with ourselves, each other, and all life on this extraordinary planet!

Published in Space Between the Stones: Poetry and Practices for Connecting with Nature, Spirit, and Creativity