Eye to Eye With a Rabbit

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 (Claire McKenzie)

Sometimes a surprising moment shifts something fundamental inside us. That's what happened when Jasper Montgomery went into the Mojave Desert for four days, alone.

I’ve done a lot of camping and backpacking, so sleeping on the ground was something I love, but I had never done it without tent. I was nervous at first about  snakes and scorpions.  But I loved being out under the stars, with nothing blocking me from the world around me.

On my first morning, I wake up and open my eyes and see the rabbit. She is squatting under a juniper tree chewing on some native grasses.  I'm lying on the ground; my head is on the ground, so we are literally eye to eye.

I am a foreigner in her land, but she doesn’t run away.  As the dawn creeps across the desert floor, she is warily watching me.  And I am watching her.  We watch each other while soaking in the warmth of the morning sun rising over the Granite Mountains.

It shifted how to be human in relation to Earth, being out alone for four days in the desert. Before, I spent time in nature, now I spend time with Nature.  Before, I was a separate human being, separate from the nature I was in.  Now, I’m not separate from it, I’m part of it.

Jasper Montgomery is an occupational therapist in Ashland, Oregon.