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Lessons from Frederick | August 15, 2021 by Dr. Kathryn Benton




Men and women who are on Earth

You are our creators.

We, the unconceived, beseech you:

Let us have living bread

The builder of our new body.

Let us have pure water

The vitalizer of our blood.

Let us have clean air

So that every breath is a caress.

Let us feel the petals of the jasmine and roses

Which are as tender as our skin.


Men and women who are on Earth

You are our creators.

We, the unconceived, beseech you:

Do not give us a world of rage and fear

For our minds will be rage and fear.

Do not give us violence and pollution

For our bodies will be disease and abomination.


Let us be whoever we are

Rather than bringing us

Into a tormented self-destroying humanity.


Men and women who are on Earth

You are our creators.

We, the unconceived, beseech you:

If you are ready to love and to be loved,

Invite us to this Earth

Of the Thousand Wonders.

And we will be born

To love and to be loved.


Good morning! I opened with this poem from Laura Huxley on the occasion of the first birthday of my grandson, Frederick. Being a grandparent helps you to gain a different perspective on a new life. Unlike when I was a parent myself, this time around I have become more aware of the entire process of birth and life…of development and growth. It is a magnificent experience!


But this poem spoke to some of my broader concerns for Frederick and for the others, including those not yet born…the unconceived. Have we humans prepared for their coming…not really.

Frederick is a wonder…full of hope and expectation…full of an openness to life…a desperate quest for meaning…every moment of every day. And each moment I feel the crush of life’s reality on him. There is indeed rage and fear…violence and pollution all around him. As much as we try to shield him from it, I know that it will seep into his soul…into the cells of his body.


Still, we do the best we can to give him what he needs…bread and water, air (not necessarily clean air) …jasmine and rose petals, soft enough to match his tender skin. And most of all we welcome and return his need to love and be loved. We drink in his attention and try to match it. He is trying to teach us to connect…connect with everything around him…the grass, the dirt, the spider web…the dogs, the water, the trees…the rocks, the breeze and the sun. Frederick is connected with all the beings in a way that I can only marginally understand. Though he cannot talk yet, I assume that he possesses a knowledge…a more complete awareness of the world around him than we adults do…based entirely on the time he spends focusing on it…leaning into it, listening to it, literally drinking it in, picking it up and turning it around and around. He may know what our fellow species are trying to tell us about our world…he may be part of the Counsel of All Beings that Joanna Macy talks about…the imagined dialogue of all species that goes something like this.…


Listen, humans, this is our world. For hundreds of millions of years, we have been evolving our ways, rich in our own wisdom. Now our days are coming to a close because of what you are doing. It is time for you to hear us.


I am lichen. I work very slowly. Time is my friend. I give you patience for the long haul…I turn rock into soil. I worked as the glaciers retreated, as other life forms came and went. I thought nothing could stop me…until now. Now I am being poisoned by acid rain.


I am robin. Your pesticides are in me now. The eggshells are so fragile they break under my weight, break before my young are ready to hatch.


Listen, humans. I am raccoon, I speak for the raccoon people. See my hand? It is like yours. On soft ground you see its imprint, and know I’ve passed. What marks on this world are you leaving behind you?


This question from the raccoon has since been answered. We are leaving behind a legacy of inaction and misunderstanding…of waste and greed. But the message from Frederick is clear. We have this moment…we have each moment that we live to make a difference…to first investigate and gain awareness and understanding and then to act…act for the benefit of the interdependent whole, of which we are a part. And there is so much we don’t know about this world we live in. I have been reading a book by a Canadian forest ecologist, Suzanne Simard. Here is a short summary of her thoughts.

Suzanne Simard


Simard is speaking of what Joanna Macy calls, Deep Ecology. Macy says that it is this Deep Ecology that, “calls us home to our true nature as interwoven strands in the web of life”. It is this “true nature” that I sense in my grandson. He is calling us to the “Magical Symbiosis” that has the power to heal so that our beloved ‘Earth of the Thousand Wonders’ can welcome new life and new hope to our world…and what a wonderful world it is!



I think Frederick agrees with this sentiment and I want too as well. I want to have the hope that Howard Thurman, and before him Job spoke of: For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its tender shoots will not fail. I am not so sure, but I am receiving my lessons every day from all my teachers. May we be open to this hope and may we be willing to work tirelessly for the benefit of this tree…the tree of life. May we remember why we are here...for Frederick and all the others. Louis Armstrong put it best when he said, ‘Love baby love, that’s the secret. Yeah…’. Yes, indeed!

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