After being away in the rural mountains of North Carolina this week — with a small group of humans, an amazing amount of large vibrantly colorful trees (Oaks, Maples, and Poplars to name a few), birds, bugs, deer, creeks, and a plethora of bright shining stars — I thought I would encourage you to take some extra time to be outside with the non-human natural world. Whether you are able to get yourself to a forest, a wide open field, a body of water, a park or even just stepping outside to see some plants in a planter in your neighborhood, it is good for us to take the time to see and relate to this part of our self. We are after all, a part of nature too. Many people, particularly in the Western majority, often speak as if ‘nature’ is something different than humans somehow implying that we are ‘separate from nature.’ Intentional or not, this subtle distinction can lead to treating ‘nature’ as an ‘other’ instead of as a part of ourselves that we may not know just yet. We treat ‘nature’ with less than whole respect, honor, and care (just like we treat our own bodies at times).
Viewing ourselves as ‘separate from nature’ is not only damaging for our planet but is one of the contributing factors to the widespread and growing sense of isolation and loneliness plaguing many humans. We forget that we are never not connected, not only to other humans but to the whole world and the entire cosmos. When we forget this, we forget who we are. We forget our Self as I AM. Cynthia Bourgeault reminds us, “that deep sensation of “I AM” reverberating in [our] being is connected to the “I AM” reverberating in every other sentient being, and in all of life itself. Through it, [we] are connected to Being itself, and in that connection lies the true source of [our] abundance and the wellspring of gratitude.”
Something in us knows this and recognizes it to be true and there are ways we can reconnect to this reality. Thomas Hubl’s speaks to this and to the importance of a contemplative practice in remembering. He says,
“When we have a contemplative practice, it helps us to slow down and deepen our awareness so that more information arises in us. We can use that sensing to feel ourselves, and we can train the same sense to become aware of [other humans and all of the non-human natural world] in a deeper way.
It could be said that wisdom is a state of including more of the world in the way we live. To experience less separation or othering, and more inclusion of life. To have more of the world represented in us. That's how we can feel connected to our heart and more intimate with the world.”
This week I invite you to make an effort to connect with non-human nature, allowing your connection to deepen not only in your thoughts, but in your feeling/emotion, and in your body sensations. Become aware of what happens inside of you when you notice this connection.
Here the Readings from this week's pauses:
“The things you do not have to say make you rich.
Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
Hearing the things you do not need to hear dulls your hearing.
The things you know before you hear them -- this is you and this is the reason you are in the world.”
— William Stafford, Crossing Unmarked Snow, 1998 quoted in John O’Donohue’s Holiday Greetings 2000