Receiving Nature

108I am sitting on my back patio as I write this. I just finished my Monday morning walk. The sun is still fairly low in the sky, so the air is slightly cool and a light breeze stirs periodically. Sunlight is filtering through the branches of the big ash tree in my backyard, making those lovely dapples of light on the grass. I have been sitting here quietly enough, long enough that the animals, the birds and the squirrels, have resumed their movements just a few feet away. Splashing in the bird bath. Rustling in the tree. Going about their morning rituals. Trusting that they are safe enough in my presence. The day is still fresh and new here in this space.

Whatever distress or joy I bring when I step into nature, however big, it is always quieted, smoothed out, in the presence of nature’s ongoing-ness. The sun shines. The wind blows. The insects ferry back and forth in their work. No matter what is stirring or at war in me, nature offers a big enough space to hold it.

I forget this magic sometimes. Or I don’t want to go. I resist the softening of the knot in my chest. Yet I think it is our truest nature to let nature touch us. I read a story once, so many years ago I can’t remember where I saw it, about a mother bringing her newborn out of the hospital and into the world for the first time. The baby had been agitated and squirming in her mom’s arms, but as soon as the mother stepped outside, this new little one quieted. In her brand new life, she hadn’t yet felt these miraculous things—the breeze, the sun. And she hadn’t yet developed filters or walls or preoccupations. It was just simple, immediate, and direct connection between her and the fullness of nature.

I will have lived a deeply good life if all I accomplish is to be that open and fresh and ready to receive.

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