This spring , as the edges of my garden expanded into the alleyway, I purchased and planted a large bag of wildflower seeds for the pollinators coming through our neighborhood. More than anything, I wanted to create a place of refuge—not only for myself in terms of the beauty of my natural yard—but also for my neighbors in the natural world. In this narrow space, of perhaps a foot in width and twenty-five feet in length with intensively productive flowering plants, there have been a myriad of visitors: bees, butterflies, moths, cardinals and hummingbirds, among our many known flighted friends. All summer long, they have been busy coming, going and otherwise retrieving what they need to live.
In contemplating the idea of refuge, I consider how we, as individuals, may choose to offer refuge in the context of our human relationships—through the extension of kind speech, generous acts, our gifts or talents, as well as shared education in community—but, also, how we are capable of broadening the framework for the extension of refuge.
It seems that, in all of our busy, human and myopic doing, we have forgotten that we are part of a broader world—the natural world. We are not the only creatures on the planet, placed here to live and thrive. We are not the only creatures on the planet seeking to live our lives in relative safety as we rear our young. Thus, our concept of refuge needs to expand. And, to that end, as co-inhabitants of the earth, changers of the planet’s landscape and configuration, we—as consumers—need to remember that our daily life-style choices have a tremendous impact on the ability of our fellow creatures to simply carry on with the business of their lives.