Growing Up in Nature

I almost passed this post over to Buddy the Adventure Maltese, because I attended a writers’ and illustrators’ conference all last weekend and today I go to Boston to physically graduate—march up that podium and take that diploma. But then, looking out the window at the mist rising off the pond, sipping my morning tea, listening to the bird song, I realized I did have something to say after all.

The natural world sustains me. Each small universe of flower, bird, and water life nourishes me in a vital way. It recalls to my mind a phrase I read in “The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiessen; “. . . the peace and healing of the night sky. . .” and I remember how reading that resonated.

When I got home from the three days of indoors imposed by the conference, I walked around my gardens, looking closely. I greeted each new daffodil and the emerging arugula. I said hi to the tiny growth of peony and the buds of the quince. I greeted them as friends.

I came to this relationship as a child. When I felt wounded by life I would go into the woods and sit down on the ground. As I sat in stillness, my eyes tracing the line of a leaf or twig,  a change came over me. Trying to describe the sensation visually, I would say that the pearl of my soul, cracked and gapped by life, would rise out of my body and flow into the natural world–a world filled with the same pearl essence. This essence flowed around and through my soul, filling it and making it whole. Once whole, my soul would slide back to its place inside of me and I would shake my head a tiny bit, coming to myself. It didn’t seem odd; I thought everyone did this.

The natural world has sustained me; still sustains me, and I’m grateful that as a child, I was not overprotected from it. Reading “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, about nature deficit disorder, I wonder the cost of separating today’s children from the very thing that nurtures them. We are part of the natural world, whether we accept it or not. And to separate ourselves from its healing capability is to refuse a gift that is our birthright.

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2 thoughts on “Growing Up in Nature

  1. Lovely. From Thoreau to Leopold to Lao Tzu and Thich Nhat Hanh, the sense of flow between our inner selves and nature resonates. Your description paints a beautiful picture, and the questions posed are ones that as a conservation advocate often haunt me.

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