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Let Nature Heal You ~ Again

April 21, 2016

nature hobbes

“The first and fundamental law of nature, which is, to seek peace and follow it.” ― Thomas Hobbes

Last year on Earth Day, I published Part 1 of Let Nature Heal You.  The piece got a great response and this year seemed like another opportunity to promote Mother Earth.

But this year feels very different. Feels like Mom is really disappointed and getting very annoyed. While she appreciates the annual celebration, she needs more daily Tender Loving Care.  In fact, she needs some major interventions. She needs and deserves respect. She’s naturally distressed as any parent would be, that’s she’s given so much and is being so badly ignored.

Given her treatment, it’s remarkable that she has been so gentle and forgiving for so long.  Like any good parent, she’s always open to change – and not inclined to withhold her love and share her bounty.  She asks only one thing – pay more attention to me – before the hour is too late. 

Walk as if your kissing the earth with your feet. Thich Nhat Hanh

 “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

The humble Buddhist monk’s quote reminds us of our sacred relationship with the Earth.  When our feet touch the soil of the earth,  reverence is reborn. In his gorgeous book Beauty, The Invisible Embrace, the late Irish poet, John O’ Donohue writes,  “In order to become attentive to beauty, we need to rediscover the art of reverence. Our world seems to have lost all sense of reverence. We seldom even use the word any more. The notion of reverence is full of riches that we now need desperately. Put simply, it is appropriate that a human being should dwell on this earth with reverence.” 

grand tetons

” The poetry of the Earth is never dead.” John Muir 

In the ethereal majesty of the Grand Tetons one can glimpse, even for a moment, our primal nature. There is something magical about these transcendent moments.  Even in the busy summer season, one early morning, a 5 minute stop along the Wyoming road, captured the grandeur of nature. Scottish-American naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir, was one of the earliest advocates of National Parks.  Muir wrote, “Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.”  While Muir could not have imagined the environmental degradation we experience today, his work was directed toward the protection of wild and natural places from the ravages of industrial and commercial encroachment.

valentino

The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”  Jeremy Bentham

This is Valentino. When horse-rescuer Kelly first caught sight of Valentino, he was struggling down a stockyard aisle on his knees as workers goaded him with whips and bats. He was only about a day old, one of many newborn calves brought to New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania that day. These “byproducts” of the dairy industry, which must keep cows pregnant to keep them lactating, are sold to be slaughtered for veal or raised for cheap beef. Small and hobbled by leg deformities, Valentino was considered an unmarketable “defective” and would likely have been left to a slow death.  Everything about this is wrong. Every animal on earth deserves humane treatment. Wholesale slaughter of animals for food, trophy hunting and the ugliness of poaching erodes humanity and endangers the eco-system. It’s time to raise our consciousness and stop these hideous practices. Thanks to Farm Sanctuary for their great work – and Valentino’s handsome mug shot.

rain tulips

” The sound of rain has no translation.”  Alan Watts

I have to admit, I used to be annoyed by rainy days.   Raised on the rainy East Coast of the U.S., I took the rain for granted. And now I long for rain – so much so that I even created a Pinterest board to celebrate it.  After fourteen years in coastal California, longing for seasons means longing for rain. A historic drought has raised the stakes for me and 38 million other residents. But water consciousness shouldn’t just be the concern of residents of dry regions like the American Southwest. Climate change scientists predict that as conditions worsen, drought will become more common in places not historically associated with it. How many of us realize that only 3% of the planet’s water is fresh water and over a billion people don’t have access to it?  Water is the source of life. Use it wisely. And enjoy the sounds of rain.

 A-very-windy-morning-in-the-dunes-along-Cape-Cods-east-coast

“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” Rainer Maria Rilke

The soft sandy beaches, undulating dunes and blades of sea grass make many of Cape Cod’s beaches a perfect frame for the mighty Atlantic Ocean. But it’s the rhythm that recalibrates us, restoring our frazzled minds and bodies to our natural state.  Much of the world’s population has no immediate access to the ocean but instead can find local ponds, quiet streams, winding rivers and great lakes. Water is a powerful forces in our lives, literally and symbolically. More than half of the adult body is water and our relationship to the healing forces of water is ancient. Water’s maintained a central place in the practices and beliefs of religions for thousands of years. It cleanses, it heals, it washes away impurities. The sounds of water strike a visceral chord in all of us.

 Our intimacy with the natural world is assured. We are of it. Too many of us are estranged from our natural connection to nature. Some of us have forsaken our natural bonds lured by the dazzling world of technology. But the natural world, in all its forms – a gentle breeze, sunshine on our faces, a bird’s busy chirp and flowers wherever they bloom – have restorative powers.  Take what you need – liberally – and remember to reciprocate.

And as the great naturalist and poet Wendell Berry reminds us, “Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, subscribe, share, like and tweet this article. It’s appreciated.

Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication Consultants

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 21, 2016 11:36 am

    As someone who thrives and reveres the outdoors I really appreciated this article
    As an educator, I am always urging folks to get outdoors- and I’m always shocked at how many do not. If we are disconnected with the earth, we become disconnected with life itself.

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