The Heart of the Matter

, March 24, 2015 in Reflective Essays

When the original characters were gathering at Findhorn, a certain English chap took interest in their work as he had some overlapping experiences with them. As a young man he had been diagnosed with a heart condition that made him need to care for himself in a special way. He had to always be aware of his heart and its state of activity. R. Ogilvy Crombie, or” ROC” as he came to be known spent his life monitoring his heart and training his mind in academics. His was a gentle soul and he spent much time in nature to be sure that his pace was even. When not in some bucolic setting, he would wander in the large parks and gardens of Edinburgh.

One day whilst resting at the base of a large tree, he spied some small children dancing around. Upon closer examination he realized that they were fairy folk. He watched them dance and play and thoroughly enjoyed their mirthful attitude. When the fairy beings realized that a human could see them, they came unto him and began asking questions of him. This turned into many subsequent visits including one in which the little fairy beings followed ROC home and asked him about human lifestyles. Unbeknownst to him, this was all a prelude to a greater meeting.

Once again whilst walking in the park in Edinburgh his little friends joined him. A feeling filled the air about ROC and inside of him something was arising in his consciousness. His senses were picking up impressions of things that were not there physically. Smells and touch sensations were alive and heightened. His visual field was vibrating as if something was both there and not there to be seen. Inwardly he felt a powerful presence and as he walked, this presence became manifest. The being introduced himself and explained that he was a great Nature-Spirit and took a particular form when communing with humans as it helped them understand the true nature of his being. Throughout history humanity has not been able to fully comprehend who or what this being is but we can begin to feel the awesome majesty of such a creature. The ancient Greeks deified all the forces of Nature as they perceived divine intelligence moving through creation. They identified Gaia, Pan, Zephyr, and others, not to anthropomorphize but to make the beings recognizable as when we identify plants by their morphological characteristics. The point of this story is that ROC, by his attitude of checking with his heart all the time, opened up an avenue of perception and acquired the quality of character that made him a candidate to participate in this auspicious convergence of different kingdoms of life. He came to Findhorn, met with some of the members and later they gathered at places like Iona to meet again the being of Pan.

In his book, The Heart of the Matter, de Chardin describes a force that acts as the centre of gravity that pulls matter together and organizes it into structures which allows life to be manifest. This same force on another scale draws two living beings together to form couples that become families. This same force on a grander scale draws and holds families together to form society. When you try to identify this force, your own life experiences will tell you that this force of attraction is what is called “Love” and you feel it in your heart and you know this is true. This is a universal force of gravity that attracts and unites all created things. It manifests on different dimensions from the sub-atomic to the personal to societal to the solar system and beyond. Matter, Life, and Intelligence are woven together and bound by this force, which is always pulling everything to its natural centre. What do we call the centre of something? We call it “the heart.” If we can feel anything at all, we can feel forces of attraction rising in our heart. Hopefully, everyone has felt and known love in their life.

Early one morning when I was at Findhorn, I was awakened by a noise and a tickle on my nose. I opened my eyes to see a large bumblebee circling my face. I hid under the bed sheet and shook in fear and shame. I had been stung many times by bees and could have an anaphylactic reaction but this was not my real fear. I was afraid of the shame that would befall me as my imagination projected images of me being transported out of Findhorn in an ambulance with my head the size of a pumpkin. Not what I would call living in harmony with nature. I knew I had to overcome this obstacle. That morning in the sanctuary I contemplated how I would deal with this. My guidance told me to work in the garden near the beehives and I would be sure to confront this disharmony. When I went to sign up for the gardening job it was already taken so off to the scullery I went next. Believing that my intention to confront the bee issue was good, I let it go temporarily hoping for another chance. One of the fine cooks asked me to fetch some figs from the root cellar. Nestled between two large granite buildings and never getting direct sunlight, the root cellar was more like a long hall than a room. Three metres wide by two metres high by five metres deep and jammed with vegetables packed in sand and fruit in cases, the cellar was dark and cool. A single naked light bulb dangling in the middle offered dim illumination. Keeping the door open to the outside allowed in more light. As I was pulling apart the very sticky sweet figs, a dark shadow blocked the door and the sound of a motor roaring filled the air. A brief moment later I realized that the shadow was a swarm of bees and one breath later it roared into the cellar and covered every inch of my body. The bees were crawling all over me, on my face, in my beard, up my nose, up my sleeves, and through my hair. The roaring buzz was magnified by the very bees crawling in ears. My years of meditation paid off. I instantly became silent and still and drew myself inwards to my heart centre. My morning experience in sanctuary returned to me and I recalled feeling that I had to “Love the bees”, and neither fear them nor hate them for our past encounters. My inner attitude changed and suddenly the roaring changed to the sound of thousands of little children laughing and squealing in ecstasy. I opened my eyes and scooped the bees from around my nose and eyes and beheld this squirming swarm of children on a field trip to the root cellar. My heart burst with the feelings of the immense joy and ecstasy these bees felt for life (and the pleasure of eating fig sugar) and my love for these little children of nature. I had to keep pulling them off my eyes and out of my nose and ears as the tickling sensation was a bit too much. I spoke out loud quietly asking for their cooperation. I finished filling my bucket with figs whilst gently removing bees from being crushed in the fig pile. Suddenly the swarm re-gathered and hovered in front of me in a swirling mass. In my heart I felt the swarm was one collective yet singular being and it communicated to me on behalf of all the honeybees that they hoped our reconciliation would be part of the reconciliation of our two kingdoms of life. In an instant they were gone.

Gathering my fig buckets I returned inside to find an empty kitchen and none to hear my story. There was one religious ceremony at Findhorn that everybody participated in – tea: hot tea, herb tea, black tea with milk and honey and fresh baked bread with butter and honey. This staved off the damp cold Scottish weather. I went to the sunny side of the building where the kitchen crew had gathered for tea. They were sitting huddled together sipping tea and keeping a wary eye on the twenty or so bees that had taken over the honey bowl. Quietly I poured a cup of tea and buttered a slice of warm bread. As if I did this, I scooped up all the bees from the honey pot and held them in a pool of honey in my left hand and walked over to the crew with my cup and slice in my right hand. Paying no attention to the action in my left hand I quietly sipped my hot tea, waiting. Finally one cook could no longer contain herself and demanded I tell her what was going on with the bees in my hand. Gleefully I related the whole story starting with my embarrassment of the morning. I recounted to them the feelings in my heart at each point of the encounter. We did exercises in attunement to the bee deva and felt the virtues that they carry. As each virtue of the bees resonated within our own consciousness we could feel our own development and expression of the particular virtues in our own life. The virtue that opened the door of our hearts was love.

Those of us who have joined our herbal associations did so because we have an attraction for herbs and nature. Many of us would not be embarrassed to say that we love plants and gardens and we feel peace and contentment when we are surrounded by nature. Some of us would say that being a herbalist is a calling. The plants called to us. Not with voices but a force of attraction, a type of gravity that draws us into nature and makes us feel that we are home and all is well. The lessons of life that the herbs are relating to us have something to do with coming together to make something. Wholeness and health have much in common. The herbs can be our food and medicine joining their bodies to ours and their vibrations to ours. That is the heart of the matter. A mother is a natural nurturer. Her own blood is transformed into milk. A mother knows that the ultimate nurturing food is love. We sometimes call this the milk of human kindness. You know this in your heart to be true. As a mother loves her children and gives freely to them, the earth itself gives to us. We must be just as generous with each other to bring about a healing of our planet. We must reconcile ourselves with all of life. We must search for that force of gravity that draws all life together and follow it to our centre of life, our heart. A herb, a honeybee, a sick friend and you; what do they all have in common?