Chapter 25

The Love of Life

Nature can feed our spiritual selves.  But there are obstacles to opening ourselves to its healing power.  All kinds of fears and anxieties keep us from responding to the comfort we need to live life well.  We must make a conscious effort to draw on the power of the natural world to restore and nurture the human heart.

Think back to times in your life when you felt very close to nature and experienced its soothing qualities.  Generally people recall vacations at the beach or excursions to secluded spots.  Most of us have also known private moments of calm in a natural setting at home or insightful spurts of happiness when, upon experiencing some form of natural beauty, we felt an overpowering oneness with the divine.

While we treasure the beauty of such moments, it is important to be able to expand them to times in our daily lives when comfort is most needed.  What keeps us from opening ourselves to natural beauty on a regular basis?  Why do we rarely turn to the comforts of the natural world when we are plagued by worries and trying to deal with problems?  Because we fear the vulnerability involved in an opening of the heart.  When we are in trouble, we feel the greatest need to be in control.  Yet a mind open to contemplation and feeling has at least momentarily abdicated control.

Opening ourselves to nature is an emotional rather than an intellectual experience.  It is comparable to allowing ourselves to care, to love, to be excited.  How dangerous these emotions can seem.  When we care, we can try and fail. When we love, we can be rejected.  When we become excited, we can play the fool.   In fact, allowing ourselves to feel deeply can be considered foolish in the adult world.  How many of us have fallen into the safe haven of telling ourselves we no longer care about doing our best on the job, reading books that expand our horizons, attempting to help others in need?

To avoid the risks of openings of the heart, we employ powerful rationalizations.  We cannot sit quietly in the yard because we have important things to do.  We cannot take a solitary walk in the woods because that would be selfish.  We do not open the windows on beautiful days because the furniture will get dusty.  We lose sight of what we need most.

Such defensive thinking keeps us from the closeness with nature necessary to a life well lived.  The problems and stresses of life must be counterbalanced by soothing and strengthening forces, and one of the greatest of these is the beauty nature has to offer.  When we open our hearts to life, it will in turn feed us with the sustenance our hearts desire.

DARE I LAY OUT MY HEART?

Dare I lay out my heart
to all life

And be loved in return
as its young

Be cradled
in birdsong

Soothed
by sunshine

Lulled by
the harmonies
of night?

Dare I lay out my heart
to love me?

AFFIRMATION

The natural beauty of the universe enriches my life, bringing joy and comfort in times of need.

It is my nature to make the quiet beauty of the morning a part of myself. My heart responds to the natural world – sunlight sifting through trees, the smell of the air’s freshness, the music of birdsong. I take the freedom and joy of it and accept it as part of myself.

I am the quiet morning. I am the seedbed of growth awaiting the opportunities of the day. I am one with the universe.

 

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