In a world dotted by churches, mosques, temples, shrines, synagogues and other buildings used to connect humanity with Spirit, it’s easy to forget that man’s first messenger of the gods was nature. Even the great masters from traditional religions seemed to have found a source of inspiration in the great outdoors. Jesus went into nature to pray often and his parables included a lot of imagery related to the natural world, such as lilies in the field, the living waters, the vine -not to mention that one of his greatest sermons occurred on a mount. It was in a cave that the Prophet (pbuh) received the command to recite and under a bodhi tree the Buddha found enlightment. Of course, this would come to no surprise to a Druid or a Shaman or any spiritual leader from ancient, aboriginal people, where nature is seemed as Divine and us as her children.
As any sacred book worth its salt, the Book of Nature speaks to people in many different ways. To some, the silence and solitude of some places open portals to new levels of awareness. For others, the interaction with other creatures shows what the Celtics would called the Web of Wyrd: the interconnection between all there is one hand, and a hard to define energy that unites and sustains all life, all existence. The creative, destructive and renewal power of nature have found echo in some cultures as a reflection of attributes found in the Divine. Natural processes have served as metaphors for ideas of life, destiny and death, such as the seasons, the changes of the moon, the movements of the stars, the caterpillar turned into butterfly. The resilience, strenght and resourcefulness of animals and plants bring inspiration to many people, as they find parallels between these creatures’ response to circumstances and their own.
Many a vision of the Divine has been shaped by the power, beauty and brutality of Nature. Whereas for some traditional spiritualities the material world is a punishment of sorts, a valley of tears, for others is a training ground -the spiritual version of the Royal Marines’ boot camp. Modern spiritualities walk more along these lines, and see the soul’s human experience on Earth as a gift, and invitation to grow, to learn, to create, to rejoice in the many, complex facets of life on this planet. Personally, I find in Nature so many lessons, spiritual and practical, that I feel like writing a book titled: All I Needed To Know I Learned In The Park.
So how do you read this Sacred Book? I suppose each tradition has its own set of instructions. Mine are simple: open your senses, open your heart and open your mind. I work from the basis that everything is somehow connected to Spirit and in a way, everything reflects an attribute of Spirit. So the top of the mountain is as imbued with Spirit as its the dandelion growing in crack on the pavement. Go humbly to dandelion and ask what lessons does it have for you. What is it saying about breaking barriers, overcoming obstacles, bringing life to unexpected places? How those the answers relate to you, to life, to the world, to the Divine? What lessons on cooperation are there in an anthill and what can you learn about individualism from the lone wolf? What do earthquakes and shaking dogs have in common and how does this commonality brings you closer to a flea than to a “master of the universe.”? And what’s love got to do with it, as Tina would ask?
So connect to nature, to the woods and the flower pot, to the processes in your body and the balance in the solar system. Breathe in consciously, knowing that that same air has travelled African savannahs and caressed lions’ mane and a little bit of you will go with it and nourish and orchid in the Amazon. Meditate in nature, on nature. Listen to it. Protect it. Interact with it. See yourself as part of it. Ask inspiration to the God of your understanding so you can see and interpret this book of love, life, death, hope and sacredness and let it be a compass in your soul’s journey, to bring you closer to the mystery within your spirit, the truth of who you are.
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