I is for Interbeing

‘I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,

and I am the bird which, when Spring comes, arrives in time to eat the mayfly.’

Stornaway reflection

I am a water molecule. I’m here in this raindrop with my siblings, surrounded by all these other raindrops. Any time now we’ll be hurling down, down, into another adventure.

Yesterday I was calmly resting in a lake, having tumbled down a mountainside in a stream a few days earlier. I was enjoying the peaceful interlude. The sun shone hotter and hotter as the day went on, my fellow molecules were gradually sucked up into the air. Soon enough it was my turn. Up, up, into the clouds. In the cloud we cling together in little droplets, until we are just too heavy to hang up here any longer. Then it’s down, down to another adventure.

Where will I go this time? Into a plant becoming part of a cell for a while? Or into a mammal’s lungs to sit about in that moist environment until I am exhaled again? Or drunk in a glass of water to be absorbed and used by that body, until that, too, ejects me, perhaps as a tear?

cloud over islands

Every thing, every constituent part of our bodies, of what seems to make up the permanent stuff of our selves, has been part of all sorts of other things in the universe, and will cease to be part of us and go to be part of something else, while all the time we may think that we continue to be the same ‘self’.

We are all intrinsically part of the universe and it is part of us. We all interbe with everything.

Hebridean graves

I follow the science of the water cycle. I know intellectually that all my molecules are only ‘mine’ temporarily, and that they are mostly empty space. I find it harder to grasp in my inmost self (made of entirely of stuff that is not ‘myself’) that I interam with every thing, every plant, every animal, every person. That I am the mayfly, I am the bird, I am the homeless person sleeping in the street doorway. That I am the arms dealer (arms dealer, surely not – I’m a Quaker, we don’t trade in arms – or do we?), I am the flower bud, the rose, the thorn, the cancer cell, because we all inter are.

North Uist

But I’m cultivating this insight, so that compassion may grow in me.


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