Spring is the season of green and rain and changing weather. For those of us who enjoy a daily walk in nature, it is an ever-changing landscape from one day to the next. Very near to where I live is, miraculously, a nature area which some long-sighted city planners long ago designated as nature preserve. Although I live in the middle of a major American metropolis, I need only walk a few minutes down to find peace and wildness, a sanctuary space amongst urban sprawl.
I was there today. There is a river there, that also changes depending upon the amount of rain or snow or sun we’ve had that week. It is an unusually rainy spring here, so there is a great deal of green both underfoot and on all the trees now. This part of the country is normally semi-arid plains, and there are cactus and many kinds of hardy perennial native plants growing there. Stands of old cottonwoods and their younger offspring grow all along the river banks, as well as willow, maple, alder, ash, hawthorn and wild apple. Many North American birds spend time there as well, from robins, sparrows, larks, etc., to mallard ducks who calmly cruise the waterway in pairs or small groups. Today I watched a small, white heron fly over the river on its way somewhere. Mostly the river meanders in a great curving flow from east to west, but there are a couple of spots where the nature conservation corps have set large rocks, and underneath one foot/bike bridge there is a rather spectacular waterfall. As all of you who spend time in nature are well aware, it is the best place to go to in order to heal oneself of any and all ills a person may be dealing with in life. In these quickly changing and accelerating times, there is nothing better than taking a walk, breathing in the fresh air, and letting nature soothe and heal the soul, body and spirit. For myself, I find myself usually walking a kind of pendulum between action and resting, between having to think and focus and being able to let go and rest. It is during the resting times that the emotions well up, asking to be released. My emotional state is so fragile and close to the surface at this point that all it takes is a kind word or two, or a compassionate human standing next to me, for tears to come. I am not ill or needing to be fixed, (although it is true that in the past couple of years I have been broken completely open) it is simply that my heart is expanded and so sensitive now to life, to nature and to others that I just FEEL so much. Walking along the river bank today, I marveled at the tiny, heart-shaped first leaves of the cottonwoods. The maple leaves with their red and green patterned leaves were just so finely wrought, so delicate. The hawthorn flowers smelled heavenly. The stalks of wild grass grew so tall and straight, their flowers still wrapped up tight like a present, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal themselves. We are like this too, wrapped up inside of ourselves, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal ourselves before another. The most daring and vulnerable thing we can do is to open up, to let go of our fears of being seen, of being known, and let the world into us completely. How do we heal ourselves from all of the horrors we have inside of us, from who knows how many lifetimes of pain, of cruelty, of hurting and being hurt? We can find the answer by emulating nature. As long as there is even a small amount of water, of sun, wind, rain, and soil, nature can and will recover from even tremendous devastation. The power of nature to heal itself, to grow anew each and every spring is beyond incredible, it is truly magical. I contemplate some humans’ ability to overcome the greatest obstacles and traumas imaginable. I sometimes can barely fathom how they could overcome such terrible circumstances, injustices, violence and horrendous brutality, how did they manage to go through such adversity and live to smile again, to love again, to write books and plant gardens and change the world? I believe the answer lies in the idea that we are a part of Nature herself, and within each of us lies a tremendous will to go on, to simply continue. It may take time, perhaps many years, to heal the old scars within us. Yet with time and with care, it happens. In fact it IS happening, all over the world. People are caring more and more, for each other and for the Earth. They are helping the Earth to heal in thousands of ways and places. As we do this, we become a greater part of the intricate web that constitutes all of us, the tapestry of life on Earth that we are, each one a strand that has value and importance. When we recognize this, a profound change occurs inside our soul. Life is definitely not about getting what we think we want. But it is about finding out just how beautiful and valuable our lives truly are, with all of its pain and its glory. Happy Spring, everyone.