Sitting outside watching the sunset, I noticed a mouse come out from her underground burrow. She scurried past the garden, heading right toward the house. Before I had a chance to interrupt her journey, the mouse crawled under the screen door and went into my home as though this was an integral part of her sunset ritual.

While wondering what to do about this unexpected visitor, my home repair to-do list grew in my mind. The next morning, I bought a threshold to install under the screen door. I sprinkled peppermint leaves around the doorway, a natural deterrent for mice. I placed food by the burrow of the mouse, honoring her existence, hoping to entice her to stay outside with an irresistible feast.

The next evening at sunset, I waited (and waited) for the mouse to emerge. Would she love the treats I left for her? How would the new threshold hold?

Despite the glorious sunset and a brilliant almost-full moon, I felt slightly disappointed. Not even a glimpse of the mouse. Maybe she had another entry to her burrow. Didn’t she like the food?

While caring for my home and the little critter, seeking to find the balance in our co-existence on the land, I began pondering the medicine of the mouse.

Mice are ingenious. They find all kinds of ways to gather up the resources needed for the here-and-now of their lives – food, water, building materials, nesting places for the little ones, safe spaces to live. Mice collect and store food for the future, not just for themselves individually yet for their families and community. Their creative ways and communal instincts are inherent in who they are and expressed in what they do.

For mice, all this activity unlikely has anything to do with the concept of “work” or “making a living.” Yet for us humans in this modern-day world, having the resources we need for everyday life individually and as families and communities often has to do with making a living, with money and our livelihoods, with our work, jobs, careers.

So what can we learn from the organic ways of the world about gathering up the resources for our lives?

Here’s what I’ve been learning from the medicine of the mouse:

~ the activities involved in making a living are genuine expressions of our unique beingness, a natural outgrowth and expression of who and what we are;

~ there’s a purposefulness in all the activities as we go about doing what we do in our lives;

~ our work in the world, the essence of our livelihood, is rooted in aliveness, is meant to nourish the passionate living of life — not suffering, sacrifice, hardship, stress, dis-ease, disconnection from family, love, freedom, learning, growth, fun;

~ creativity and communal instincts are inside all of us;

~ we can bring adventure and playfulness to exploring and discovering the inner and outer landscapes of our lives;

~ ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking are key to moving under, over, and in-between any blocks, even those that seem impassable in others’ eyes;

~ how we do our work in the world weaves the web of our local ecosystem and shapes the global web of life;

~ your particular work and livelihood will have natural rhythms and cycles, so vital to honor and deeply root yourself in;

~ seek out what truly feeds you and your beloveds, don’t let others’ enticements throw you off-course;

~ other people, society, the media, and even our own minds will likely impose long lists of “shoulds” and “supposed-to’s” about work, money, success, and how to make a living…yet your natural instincts and genuine expression of who and what you really are, your passions and gifts, what you are here to be and do in this particular lifetime – these are your most trustworthy guides;

~ tend to your and others’ well-being now and for the future, this is the way of the earth.

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