When I was five years old, I got the leading role in my primary school play, Nature. To this day, I don’t know why I got that much coveted role (yes, aged five there were quite a few divas around me, who so wanted it!) but it was to be mine.
Each morning after 11am break, for two weeks, we smallies got into line, each with an index finger to our lips thus preventing unwanted chitter-chatter! We walked along the dimly lit hall into what was called the assembly hall; a cavernous square shaped space filled with light from six huge south facing windows. The ceiling was at least twenty feet high, perfect then for the voices of 40 children! We remained in our lines until we were called onto the stage by our teacher – the red velour curtains edged with gold thread reminded me of crushed raspberries. It was what you could say, very theatrical. To get up onto the maple floored stage, we needed to climb eight steep steps – to the left of the stage – the curtain hung so generously that the steps were hidden from the audience’s eyes. I remember the excitement of pulling that curtain aside, getting lost in its folds, and wrapped in velvet each time. The smell of damp suffused the air, but in those days, I didn’t know what damp was, to me that smell was theatre!
Even though I had the starring role, I still didn’t get onto the stage until three-quarters way to the end – some starring role! So, along with my classmates, I waited until my turn came. We were not called onto the stage by our Christian names but by part names – which looking back was a wonderful, clever way of getting us into our roles – a sort of 1970s method acting technique! Thus, when wind was called Mary Power would go on, when summer sun was called, Claudia Murphy ran on, and when thunder and lightening were called, the burly Smith twins went tumbling out there! And then it was my turn, little Seed.
As little Seed, my part was all about growth. I came onto the middle of the stage and curled up into a little ball – foetal like, thus becoming the seed in the ground awaiting germination. My costume was an ensemble of a grass-like Hawaiian skirt, white t-shirt with little bits and pieces of I don’t know what attached to it. However, it was my headdress that was the piece de résistance: a headband covered with lots of different petals from all sorts of flowers. Beautiful.
Now, as most of us know, no seed can germinate in isolation it needs the correct conditions. But, I was a lucky seed, as the narrator told the story to a packed hall full of proud parents smiling and nodding, the right amount of sun, rain, soil came to my aid – my classmates of course. They each peppered their magic powers about me, and after a decisive cue-nod from my teacher I would uncurl little by little…at the peak of my performance I stood four feet tall and proud. I even saw my Dad at the back of the hall. In essence, what I represented that evening all those years ago was the miracle and beauty of life. Now I see it, then I merely played my part, as best I could.
A seed, any seed is a miracle of life. Everything a particular seed needs is encapsulated in its protective shell. But, not until conditions are perfect, this stage of life is held back – full of possibilities- until the seed gives itself to its environment. It cannot become a plant unless it gives itself up to its isolation. How the seed develops depends on what it meets in growing out into the environment. So it needs roots, a foremost activity. When the plant connects with the soil it anchors itself in life thus developing further.
It is these roots that will strengthen and sustain the plant for its lifetime – constantly growing it is through the roots that the plant establishes vital contact with the soil around it. But, the plant has another job to do – it must grow towards the light, upward – a whole new way of experiencing its environment – another way of being. Upwards, means a host of new qualities: light, air, weather and of course other plants i.e. competition. The presence of light and sun assists the stem and leaves in greening thus in turn allowing the plant to feed itself, returning vital food. Over time the plant becomes a powerhouse of life, energy cursing through its cells. The plant lives its life through connecting with the place in which it grows, and not only that but the place in which the plant grows and lives interacts with it – a constant interactive relationship.
Human beings exist in a similar way, we do not however, necessarily think of our life like this. You could say we are disconnected from the growing, living world that surrounds us, the one that begs for our attention. But, without the life-giving properties of nature, we would cease to exist. Our world is a rich one, yet very few of us live in relation to the world around us. It is time we open ourselves, just like the shot above ground, and actively become receptive to our world, we must engage with what we discover: good and bad. If, we root ourselves in the soil that feeds all life on Earth, the barriers between ourselves and all others will lessen. In becoming more receptive and awake to the world, we might just find that we save ourselves.
All those years ago, my performance of the little Seed, triggered and gave birth to something deep inside me. It helped me become receptive to the living world around me. It helped me look, really look at a flower or a plant – I could almost imagine the headquarters of the plant deep beneath the soil sending out its commands: grow out, grow up.
Overtime, I realised that my life would be a series of germination and provided I received the correct constellation of love, nurture, friendship, joy and food then hopefully each of my seeds would germinate and let me experience the richness of life on this beautiful planet, Mother Earth.
Go, grow some roots!