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Evolution of the relationships we have with…well, everything.
There’s a huge shift taking place. And it’s about our connectedness, our relationship to all other living things. To think about it is to feel it, at least to some degree, and it feels big. This is well worth our attention—for both emotional and spiritual growth—especially at the start of a new year. But let me begin with some background about the journey that continuously leads me to feel a part of this shift.
I have been fortunate and blessed to live in some very interesting places throughout my life, and the most memorable ones have been when I’ve lived close to nature. In Florida, I lived on a lake, on the ocean and on a canal. The ocean setting became particularly memorable during hurricane season, when, during one especially rough summer of storms I awoke to find that the water level had risen into the lower part of the house. With binoculars I saw my printer and some books floating across the bay. Some neighbor’s boots and lawn chairs were in my yard. And I never did find my kayak. Ah, the price of living in paradise.
That’s not, however, the kind of memory I’m talking about.
In California, I lived in big cities, in ’burbs and on a mountain river at Sequoia National Park. At night on the river I could hear emus howling (or baying, or squawking, or whatever it is emus do,) and sometimes I’d awaken to a family of small red foxes running across my back deck, just a few feet from the swimming hole that was home to lots of little nibbling fish. I’d spot bears in the forest and eagles flying high above.
Currently, I am fortunate to live with woods behind me, and beyond that, tall hills in one direction and mountains in the other. The woods are buggy in summertime, but peaceful and private—a source of both comfort for the soul and oxygen for the lungs.
Sitting out back with the pups is when I find the greatest sense of peace wash over me. Sometimes it’s a “lively peace,” with romping and wrestling and general doggy merriment surrounding me. Other times it’s the quiet and deeply introspective peace of meditation, where I feel totally connected, almost absorbed, with the trees and flowers, the squirrels, and sometimes a family of owls. At these times I can feel my heart rate slow, and I’m aware of the gentle, easy rhythm of breathing in oxygen from the trees, and breathing out stress. The energy within me mixes with the energy of nature, and a powerful, massive sense of oneness seems to float like a veil over all of it.
What I’ve come to understand is that for me, this is “home.” Home is less about location and more about connection; certainly, connection with my other humans, friends and family alike. But also connection with other living, breathing creations—four-legged or bark-covered, feathered or howling. When I’m “in the zone,” I don’t see or feel much difference between all of us. Yes, humans are (supposedly) at the highest level of reasoning ability along the food chain. But I also know that my dogs have souls and intellect, intuition and empathy. I know that, just as my thoughts, words and deeds carry energy, so does the weeping cherry tree in my garden. So, I wonder: Are we not all created by some force beyond us, uniting us, connecting us? Take a moment and ponder for yourself: Do you ever have experiences of feeling connected to the Divine; of being “in the zone” with the God of your understanding; of feeling nature’s rhythms in concert with your own heartbeat? If you do, then you know the amazing connectedness of which I speak.