Making Peace With the Natural World
“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”
~ Wendell Berry
Each day, I awake, look up at the rising sun against the treeline and dream of harmony. And as the sun sets its burning self against the canvass of purple-pink clouds and deep blue sky, I dream of lasting balance. A world where all of creation recognizes and cherishes this profound gift of Life and the planet that makes it all possible.
Alas, we are off this course.
As a community of supposed intelligent beings gifted with consciousness and a moral compass, we might know better. As a species born out of the womb of creation and connected so deeply to its natural rhythms, we should not have forgotten this part of ourselves.
But we have.
Our intelligence has failed us. Our ingenuity has led us astray. Our innovations have only seeded the quest for more. A quest with no end; a bounty that will be unattainable; a hunger that cannot be filled by material things.
One need only look to the natural world to find the answers to most of that which we seek: Simplicity, harmony, balance, community, peace. Nature has architected and engineered itself perfectly with no need for tinkering or tweaking. When left to its natural course it thrives, providing ample sustenance to all its creatures. Indeed, Nature is our Mother.
What We Face
For many humans though, Nature has become a commodity. A thing to be bought and sold; pillaged and profited from; beaten back, tamed and exploited for selfish gain. Nature is that thing out there, outside. That stuff that’s icky and gross. Those ugly trees, those stinky animals; that worm-filled dirt and the water so bitter on the tongue.
We have forgotten that every single thing that we consume comes from this beautiful little planet. The clothes, the gadgets, the cars, the knick-knacks; the so-called food shipped half-way around the world; the energy for our homes and offices; all that must-have-it-now-because-it’s-on-sale stuff that the legions are flocking to the malls for right now.
We have forgotten that every single living being on this planet is made from the same basic building blocks of life. And because of that, we are connected so deeply — and deliberately — in this Community of Life. Woven into our DNA is a compassion for all that is living; a gratitude for the nourishment of mind, body and spirit that we all provide for each other.
We have forgotten our role as caretakers and stewards of this gift we all have been given. The natural world would go on just fine without us. But alas, we are here and we have a responsibility to ensure it continues to thrive in both the short- and long-term.
Return of the Prodigal Ones
2011 is our opportunity to make peace with the natural world. To realize that the course we’ve been on will not result in that which we seek; to return to that innate and beautiful relationship we once had; to dwell each day in the love and majesty of creation.
While a laundry list of to-do could fill pages, there are two simple things that we all can do to sow these seeds of peace with the natural world:
The first is the practice of mindful consumption. To be mindful of everything we do and its impact — good or bad — on the planet. Seeing the connections between what we consume and the vitality of the natural world from where it comes.
When we practice mindful consumption we take concrete steps towards not only transforming ourselves, but transforming our relationship with Nature. We reconnect with that forgotten part of our being that yearns for that love and fellowship. It’s beautiful. It’s life-changing.
The second is simply to be with Nature — embracing the experience often and deeply. Spend time outside whether its sipping your morning coffee or taking a mid-day walk; planting a few flowers or a garden full of vegetables; playing games with the kids or experiencing the silence of a hike alone in the woods.
When we engage Nature with all of our senses, its energy and vibrancy begins to seep into our pores and fill our being with that simple happiness and contentment. When we stop to quietly observe its miraculous workings, we deepen our appreciation and respect for what it provides. This eventually leads to the epiphany of our Oneness with Nature, leaving behind the notion of separateness that modern culture has fostered.
And the up-tick? We shed all those things — all that stuff — in our lives that is unnecessary and complicates our ability to live deeply each day. We embrace an intense simplicity of thought and action. We rekindle relationships and community. We don’t spend time and money needlessly on impulses, allowing us to focus on following our passions and transforming how we spend each day.
As we step into 2011, I continue to welcome you to join me and this growing community of followers who are creating and living their new pursuits; making peace with all the Life that call this planet Home.
As always, your help in sharing The New Pursuit is greatly appreciated. Taking a few seconds to email to a friend or share via Twitter or Facebook is fantastic. Subscribing to receive future posts for free is amazing. While you’re here you might also enjoy these posts:
- What Three Days in the Wilderness Will Teach You About Life
- Sowing the Seeds of Happiness (Or the View From My Patch of Peace)
- Nature as Mentor: 6 Life Lessons Gardens Can Teach Our Children