Listening to the Family of Nature


  It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.                                   ~ Oliver Wendall Holmes

Nature presents herself as a charming cantor inviting all who have ears to listen and enter the sacred space of worship always present around us in creation. Recently, I listened to the Exeter river that runs behind my house for half an hour. I heard birds, cars in the distance and wind in the trees and the sudden movement of woodland critters. The longer I sat there, the more things I could hear. The river flowing as it traversed rocks or fallen trees; burbling water against the edges of the riverbed shore; and rushing of air as it passed me; the trees creaking as they moved with the wind. The experience was calming and refreshing. I felt renewed as I rested in the sacred rhythms of the river. I feel my spirit flowing en tandem with the water.

I began to notice that I felt more aware, more peaceful and present. I also noticed that the ability to connect with what I heard and experienced intensified as I closed my eyes to just listen and didn’t rely on sight at all. The inward sensation becomes a feeling of resonance with what I hear; a sense of communication between the river’s sounds and myself. The flow, burble, rush sound happy and content to me and convey a powerful sense of aliveness or ‘life’. Also with my eyes shut I felt together with what I heard whereas with my eyes open I felt more separate or a part.

One day a week my now eight-month old grandson joins me for the day. Together, we take walks, garden and otherwise enjoy being outside together. I take great delight in noticing how sensitively he expresses his awareness of creation. His stillness in the face of it all, his attraction to certain sounds or views, all generate a sense of our primordial/familial belonging to the natural world. I hope and pray that our days in nature will nurture his unique G*d seed and inspire him to care for his world as for himself.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting / over and over announcing your place in the family of things.   ~ Mary Oliver


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