"Nature provides us with some of our most dramatic experiences of the sacred. Think back, and we’re sure you can recall a time when you were soothed, inspired, or awed by the natural world."
--Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
How do you experience nature?
When I go out to sit on my veranda, there are two trees that seem to welcome me. I sit down and soak up the sunshine and commune with my trees. It feels like I am embraced and absorbed by and sheltered within them. I become centered and grounded and connected to a deep inner wisdom and knowing. If there’s a problem I’ve been pondering, the solution comes to me as I sit quietly, steeped in stillness.
Even after I come back inside, I feel expanded--like the person who is me is both in here and out there where the trees are. And as I look at them through the window, it is as if they are in here with me. Like what separates us is not real and we are not at all separated. It seems as if we have a warm, gentle, affectionate connection.
And I also feel totally connected to the essence of who I am.
Do any of you have similar experiences?
Here's a description of another woman's experience...
A woman once described a friend of hers as being such a keen listener that even the trees leaned toward her, as if they were speaking their innermost secrets into her listening ears. Over the years I've envisioned that woman's silence, a hearing full and open enough that the world told her its stories. The green leaves turned toward her, whispering tales of soft breezes and the murmurs of leaf against leaf.
When I was a girl, I listened to the sounds of the corn plants. A breeze would begin in a remote corner of the field and move slowly toward the closest edge, whispering. . . .
At night, in the cornfields, when there is no more mask of daylight, you hear the plants talking among themselves. The wind passes through. It's all there, the languages, the voices in the wind, dove, corn, stones. The language of life won't be silenced. . . .
Do you remember the friend that the leaves talked to? We need to be that friend. Listen. The ears of the corn are singing. They are telling their stories and singing their songs. We knew that would be true. — Linda Hogan in Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World
Here are a few ways you can spend time connecting with nature and discover yourself and your spirituality in a whole new way...
"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself" --Henry Miller
(1) Walk or sit quietly and tune in to the sounds of nature. If you were listening closely, what would the trees, plants, clouds, etc, be telling you? Pick up a stone or flower or leaf and hold it close to your heart, in your heart space (the center of your chest). What secret of life is it whispering to your heart?
(2) Examine and touch each flower and plant. Celebrate and enjoy all that glorious color! Watch everything that is happening. The butterfly as it travels on the wind, the bird flying with his friends. Feel the breeze. Take it all in and allow joy to fill you--for life, for the beauty of nature.
(3) Journal exercise: "Through the power of your imagination, as an exercise of empathy, put yourself in the place of a newly planted seed. What calls to you? What urges you to grow? What do you need to remember?" --Frederic and Mary Brussat
(4) Sit under a tree and close your eyes for a minute or an hour, taking it in, feeling it surround and embrace you. Then, open your eyes, and look up at the branches, letting the solidity and strength of the tree center and ground you.
(5) Close your eyes again and let the warmth of the sun caress you. Visualize the energy of the sun in your heart space--the center of your chest. Open your eyes and look at how the sun bathes everything in a warm golden glow.
Here are questions to consider, letting them go deep into your heart, as you spend time in and with nature…
(1) What does it mean to be spiritual?
(2) What does it mean to have a spiritual practice? What does or would it mean for me?
(3) What does my heart long for in my relationship with God or the universe?
Write down any insight or wisdom that comes to you as you soak up everything nature has to offer you. Notice the gradual changes in your spirituality as you continue your brief retreats in nature.
Find ways to bring nature inside: ocean sounds, a waterfall, a collection of stones, fresh flowers, plants.
"There is no defense against an open heart and a supple body in dialogue with wildness. Internal strength is an absorption of the external landscape. We are informed by beauty, raw and sensual...Clouds gathering. Rain falling. Rivers raging. Lakes rising."
--Terry Tempest Williams
# # # # #