I attended a Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Spiritual World of Nature program this past week where we were invited to briefly share what nature means to us. I said, “Nature is where God talks and I listen.” After speaking those words I began to appreciate again the gifts accompanying the suffering that led me into the natural world where I found a unique solace and answers to many of life’s toughest questions. I am grateful for having recorded the comfort and insights I experienced in my memoir “God Never Hurries.” Now I can remember and relive them, and share with others.
Nature is—where the morning sun beamed through the trees and whispered, “Be not afraid;” where I came to know a caring Presence to whom I belong; it is celebrating freedom at dusk that was like a trip to the moon on gossamer wings; it is a magnificent, warm, soul soaking rain; it is a huge oak tree where I sometimes took my troubles and always parted with a sense of communion and strength; it is a blue moonlit snow drift where I played with my late son Joe and dog Lydia; it is a bright, fall, moonlit night that called me outside to write one night; it is the smell of wood smoke in my sweatshirt and the rustle of dry leaves in dark trees above that gave me respite from my troubles; it is a curious deer that encouraged my curiosity and later another deer that showed me all is Eucharist; it is tall gray herons wading in a thick gray blanket of fog that let me sense the seamlessness of the world’s soul; it is a sunlit fog that showed the church of my birth in a rusting old car buried upside down on the beach; it is water running under a milky cascade of ice on the bluff that sounded like a happy, vibrant church where everyone has a voice; and peddling my bike past a swamp, where I heard frogs talking, I was reminded to talk more and share myself with others. I could go on and on but I think you can understand why I listen when God talks.
A common theme from others who shared what nature meant for them at last week’s program was a sense of balance and centering. And then our competent instructor led us to see how the interdependency of diverse natural communities is the source of their strength and order.