As I considered his suggestion, what really convinced me was my belief that
what we see—or, perhaps more accurately, what we choose to see—is, in fact, a reflection of who we are.
One can’t be moved by Nature’s splendor without letting oneself be moved. And this is by no means a given. Take a walk in the woods, and even those of us who see ourselves as Nature lovers often have a hard time noticing the incredible details right in front of our noses. We appreciate being there…but we’re not all there.
What we so often fail to realize is that Nature
can heal many of those hurts if we let her.
It’s not for lack of the right tools; most of us have reasonably well-developed senses. It’s because we’re so used to having our whole world revolve around “bigger” concepts. Business people looking for the next big thing; consultants promoting a new paradigm; friends simply distracted by their own commitments, conquests or simply coping. Whatever it is within us that hungers for a connection with things more universal, more timeless, it’s just not able to find its way out.
For others, the problem may be more than just being too busy. Too often, there’s genuine pain, from injury, loss or disappointment. It’s hard to put yourself out there when you hurt. And in a way that’s even more of a shame, because what we so often fail to realize is that Nature can heal many of those hurts if we let her.
I don’t consider myself a religious person, yet I’m quite spiritual. I believe
that everything and everyone is an embodiment of what I call God, an incomprehensibly vast and powerful force of beauty, goodness and love.
We are all, somewhere at our cores, sweet, innocent children. Problem is, our parents, our culture, our circumstances and, in some cases, a genetic or chemical roll of the dice has stifled that pure goodness, heaping layer upon layer of muck
on top of it: ambition, expectation, responsibility and guilt, to name a few.
And technology, like a delicious dish or drink best consumed in moderation, only goes so far before it becomes presence’s undoing. For too many of us, it’s discrediting every last excuse we have for not being
able to do everything, for anyone, all the time.
So truly connecting with Nature and wonder is about removing some of those layers. Rather than following the workaday world’s mantra of making things happen, this is about slowing down, quieting the voices that drive us, restoring healthy boundaries and letting things happen—things that, as it turns out, were there all the time.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, just as we learn to let Nature’s little hidden wonders find us, we would all devote the time and attention it takes to peel back some of our innermost layers and find ourselves? It might be a dirty, smelly job, but chances are what we’d find is something very good indeed. In fact, this innate, inner goodness is the one essential gift which, no matter what our condition in life—rich or poor, educated or self-taught, able-bodied or hobbled—we have to share with the world.
Unlike more tangible gifts,
this one, if not given, is lost.
One of my favorite spirituality thinkers and writers, Marianne Williamson, in her book, A Return to Love, wrote about that essential good, that inner light that shines within each of us:
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone…As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Every day, I try to let these brilliant words hold sway over all the lessons of modesty and self-denial I was taught growing up. I remind myself that every single person I pass that day represents my chance to shine my light. Whether it’s by helping them, listening to them or simply greeting them with a smile and a kind word, that’s the gift I have to share. And, unlike more tangible gifts, this one, if not given, is lost.
WHAT GOES AROUND...
If only it were as easy extending this blessing to God’s other creations. Too often, even if we’re successful in uncovering our inner, curious child, our understanding of Nature is superficial. We take her for granted, assuming that, because we so long to be with her, she’ll always be there and will always welcome us.
But that assumption fails to understand her sheer frailty, the damage we’ve already inflicted on her, and her urgent need for the same kind of understanding and care we’d give a vulnerable friend or a child.
By loving Nature superficially—wanting what she gives but failing to understand what she needs—we end up loving her to death. And in Nature we mustn’t forget that, as powerful as that image of shining one’s light may be, it’s only half the picture.
Remember the premise I started with: what we see reflects who we are? The other half of the picture is letting our light shine back into us. For it is that energy—which, as Williamson says, also kindles it in others—that recharges our own ability to shine in the first place. Whether it’s in Nature or with other human beings, only by giving that energy—the energy I call seeing generously—can we receive it.
–Shine on, my friends!–