“Nature is my religion”
To me, this means – that the natural world, the wilderness is a divinely beautiful system, in harmony with itself – self-regulating and wondrously complex, intricate and sacred. It is unfathomable, well-organized and astoundingly beautiful at both the micro and the macro levels.
Nature operates more on a rhythm than a calendar. Her processes of change are interrelated and subtle. How do two trees growing side by side interact? They obviously intertwine their roots, and often give space to each other’s branches and accommodate one another. Until, at some point perhaps one has an advantage and outgrows the other, one grows and one withers. It’s a chance of fate, of birth and species. A Douglas fir will eventually overshadow an oak, transforming the forest from hardwoods to softwoods, from deciduous to coniferous.
The Sufis says that the leaves of a tree as the pages of the Bible. I have taken time to meditate with trees, and with their leaves. These otherworldly beings begin their lives as a seed, and absorb, transmute and alchemize themselves into trees, using sunlight, water, air and food. Somehow they know to do this, it happens, and to intimately witness that miracle is a true spiritual awakening.
We share this planet with so many other kinds of beings. The sheer variety is more than my human brain can possibly assimilate. Like a hummingbird, I witness the activities in my garden by casting my awareness around from flower, to leaf, to shaft of sunlight to critter movement to stillness. Tonight I shared a moment with a raccoon, yesterday a small spider and before that a family of quail who live in the blackberry thicket right off the driveway. I know that the animals and many of the beings that live on this land with me for the past 20 years watch me, know my habits and accommodate themselves to that. At one time there were three crows who watched as I fed the outside cat (she won’t come in even though she’s welcome) and patiently waited until the cat finished eating to empty the dish. These days a fox does that job…
After a time spent in nature as my mind returns to its smaller, more human concerns it has become much easier to cast aside those pesky self-limiting and self-judging thoughts. A new perspective has been gained that is more open – more kind, more accepting. To find myself being a part of the natural world is thrilling, and at the same time since it is actually the natural state, it also feels, well, natural. Simultaneously relaxed and alert. Refreshed and reinvigorated. Renewed and Restored.
One of the purposes of meditation for me is to slow down enough to be able to perceive the subtle activities of the natural world. To watch the chrysalis open, to catch a closeup view of a butterfly. Have you ever looked closely at a butterfly’s face? They are heartbreakingly adorable. They are little fairy creatures, some of them have polka dotted bodies, other have little multicolored striped antennae… Dragonflies have great big smiles – Bumblebees are all different, some tiny and mostly black, others plump and more yellow. Why? This I cannot answer!
What else is to be learned from this holy book? Patience, allowing, trusting – as the natural world’s processes are so well organized and effective, then is it possible that we, too are so well organized? That we have an innate program that will choose our place, will allow us to be created into what we really are? The best healers I know guide the body to listen to its own innate wisdom, for the blueprint for health is already contained within each of us. That includes the blueprint for physical, emotional and spiritual health. It all comes back to learning how to listen, deeply, honestly, truly listen.