Sometimes guilt and shame can be so blanketed and hidden that we aren’t even aware it is there.
During my healing process, (which began in 2016 in earnest), I was drawn to solitude. I craved quiet and fed myself a quiet holistic lifestyle; learning the healing tools I needed along the way.
I wasn’t volunteering in community, but the strangest thing was, I was drawn to litter. Picking up litter everywhere I travelled, both locally and abroad, became a natural instinctive habit.
Litter would actually find me. Venturing out on a trail in the middle of seeming no man’s land, I would come upon litter. Waste from the careless human mind via the hand. It was uncanny, a turned leaf and a plastic something or other showed its unnatural face to the light for rescue and mindful disposal.
I would begin to keep garbage bags in my automobile and backpack. Parks, roadsides, city streets, off trail, on trail; parking lots being especially fruitful. The beaches of Southern California must have been vacuumed prior to any movie or television series filming that is for sure for I could not take two successive steps on the glorious wet sand before bending to retrieve a plastic wrap or straw or some other form of man-made intrusion.
It wasn’t always a pleasant task. Some days I would fume at the audacity of the human machine. Walking, however, helped transmute the fury into appreciation of Ma. Mother. Earth. Home.
I found myself in circumstance last week where I was in a hurry to get home. Walking past a very fond and familiar part of the local park, I spied dozens of little white styrofoam packing pieces strewn everywhere. You know, the ones shaped like S’s about an inch or so in length? I turned my eyes away. I wasn’t in the “mood” to clean.
After arriving home, I took a much needed bathroom break, and ate some dinner. Holding a full bladder often makes me irritable. I never realized this before. Still, after these ablutions, I didn’t feel quite “right”.
Opening the hall closet, I donned rubber boots as the site holds a culvert and was quite wet, some rubber gloves, grabbed a bag that ironically said “the greatest wisdom is kindness” and headed out to the city park.
I began to grumble at my task. Then, as I continued, heartfelt gratitude fell out as each piece went in the bag. Smiling and humming came next. A young man stopped to admire the trees and wild plants and commented to my task. “We are the caretakers of Earth my friend,” was my response with a smile. “It is our responsibility to keep the Earth clean of our things and habits. When Earth shines, we shine! We may as well enjoy the responsibility as well as the beauty. There is a give and take happening here. We are the Earth!”
It is here I realized my service to Earth was sacred seva. Just days before I had read that Yogi Bhajan served seva (selfless service in Sikhism) in the Golden Temple for four years washing floors. (Seva is often performed in community by serving others. Seva is a concept that means to promote humility and demote egoism in the individual).
I discovered I was harbouring hidden guilt and shame because I was not serving other people. The hidden, harboured guilt and shame I was holding of not serving humanity directly received wings and flew to the light of Grace during my time retrieving the s-shaped styrofoam : ) During my healing from trauma, shame, addiction, self-criticism (suffering the inner critic), low self-esteem and lack of boundaries, (all attributes of ptsd); being with people did not help me heal these tender parts of me that suffered so. These inner facets sought solitude and healing from stillness and nature. I was a people pleaser and was relearning how to please myself first and befriend to Love the scared, traumatized, addicted, people pleaser within.
Others sometimes stop to comment on my task with a “thank you” or “that’s not your job”. Sometimes I don’t have the words to respond. I believe when we clean the Earth, we clean ourselves. We are the Earth. I believe we clean out lodged hurt and shame and mountains and mountains of guilt. I believe, piece by piece we restore balance, harmony and unity within as well as practicing humility. I believe when we clean up the mess without, we clean up the mess within!
Are you struggling with self-esteem issues and lack of self worth? I suggest practicing seva in your neighbourhood wild. The opportunities are everywhere. The rewards are priceless. Litter is an epidemic of global proportion. Seva can be served as silent, meditative practice, egoless service to our home, beautiful and fruitful Mother Earth, and all of our brothers and sisters in nature. We are serving the Goddess! Ma! And all of humanity by our sacred actions.
Shine Ma, Shine! When you do Ma, we do too! How glorious and free we will be when we, global humanity, the caretakers of Earth, realize this.
If we aren’t being true to ourselves, listening to our inner guide, who are we listening to?
Love the Earth ❤