Our natural surroundings invite us to simply be. To quiet, to breath, to stillness. There is no hurry and no anxiety in the cyclical abundance and lull of life on Earth. For so many of us, peace is elusive, an unattainable wisp on the fractured horizon of our permanently broken hearts. How odd, since we are walking on the surface of brazen peace each day. It is nothing that we have to chase down or wrestle for ourselves. There is no membership fee, no socioeconomic qualification, and no pedigree. In fact, the humbler the participant, the more fluid the encounter of awe and full immersion.
Nature is unadorned and unashamed. In the presence of such brave vulnerability, we are invited to reciprocate. Nature is comforting in its complete presence, steady renewal, and ageless wisdom. It is a macrocosm of our love for new things: newborn babies, dogs, pigs, elephants, and fish. In nature, we are reminded that, despite the death and destruction we are assaulted by in the news, our experiences, relationships, and social media, there is a forceful abundance of life. It surrounds us. It cannot be broken or tamed, but it can be trusted. While we feel the only thing we can depend on is that we can’t depend on anything, the Earth, with its perfectly aligned axis, orbit, and rotation, bears witness to solid commitment and indomitable purpose. For life. Seeds producing plants producing flowers, flowers making seeds, seeds growing into plants, into the forever. For life. The air we breathe, the intricate bodies we inhabit, the variety and wonder of animals, water covering the shallow and deep. For life.
How heartening. How joyous. The natural bent of the world is toward life. In a universe that, science tells us, tends toward chaos and darkness, the brilliance of a sun coming again over the horizon defies our despair. How can we give up when the earth is vibrantly singing hope? In a time when the future seems bleak and our lives, plans, and efforts appear to be collapsing in and around us, without the courtesy or comfort of an ability to counteract the avalanche, we need the assurance of Earth. We need the embrace of a place that is more than a settlement. A home. Its permanence towers over our frailty, a strength without domination.
The overwhelm and discerning nature of grief often gives way to a cognizance of quieter things. Those we pass over for the louder, more seemingly urgent concerns. The ones we can hold above our head for recognition or check off of a list. Those concerns that paint us on the outside as we wear away on the inside. When we are brokenhearted, we are less apt to take part in the plays and parts our society demands of us. Our weariness of heart returns us to the essential, and the essential is brutally plain and honest.
We are in a communal grief, and not just because of a worldwide contagion. We are witnesses and participants in a collective assault on hope and humanity. This has been true since the beginning, however you picture that. Since the first time one person rejected another or a person rejected themselves. But, one reality doesn’t diminish or negate another. You’ve heard it said that the most negative, and loudest, voices, are the minority. We are unassuming witnesses to the majority:
Nature never screams for attention. It doesn’t manipulate or demand our loyalty. It waits. It gathers itself at dusk and strides out at dawn, and waits for any one thing or person to notice its goodness. It is content to simply be and satisfied with your own being. It gives of itself willingly, without preference or politics. It isn’t a place of striving, and for that, it soothes and heals our striven-faint hearts.
Our longing for a place to belong, a place of acceptance and safety, often overlooks the one outside our back door. When chaos visits, return home. It has been yours to claim since your beginning and before.
The earth reclaims itself
As the sky’s brilliancy
Seeps and aches into the west
The pungent fragrance of soil
The garments of progress
As the abstract and conceptual fade
The visceral, the spiritual,
Lifts its voice
A symphony of discordant joy
The paradox between the two more striking
In the silence
Of manufactured sound
The indignant and boisterous
A truer, innate power
A humble, but final authority.
The initial pattern
A mere path through a forest
A suggestion and hope
Urgent pavement and fuel
A line drawn across a map
An imaginary, but devastating boundary.
One imitating through consciousness and futile purpose,
Though it’s broken façade swells with death
The other living,
A murmuring hurricane of irreproachable life.