I frequently set out early to traverse the hilly trails of our local forest.
But yesterday was a bit different because I had a task: to notice something anew in the everyday nature around my home. A member of my learning pod for an online course I’m taking this month had suggested this small activity as a focal point for our next class discussion.
Of course, this has been my personal, unabating charge in recent months: noticing the fine, exquisite details in this landscape with which I am so at home, so familiar, so in love, so connected, so embedded, so utterly in interconnected relationship. In love.
Just this week, I have had phenomenal engagements with my nonhuman kin:
viewing the Neowise comet with my naked eyes
discovering new bear scat, tracks, and scratches on trees in my and my neighbor’s yards
finding a sweet little soft-pink flower hidden beneath tall weeds in which the bright red crocosmia
I had set out to photograph up-close were nestled
enjoying an ambling river otter who skirted an asphalt parking lot to make his way to the water’s
edge, unabashedly moving in open space among people and vehicles
showing to my visiting niece the steady bald eagles who have sat in the same treetops for
more than a decade
So, carrying the task of noticing anew in my ordinary landscape felt natural and simple. And what happened became extraordinary; I ended up on inner journeys I couldn’t possibly have predicted or expected.
I am on the forested path:
closing my eyes as I hike on the part of the trail in which dappled sunlight reaches the forest
floor, I discover how profoundly the brightness and darkness play upon my eyelids as my feet feel their way forward
following the scent of trees warmed by a summer morning, I notice how I am led into
the inner terrain of memory: long-ago summers among very different nature siblings of
rounding the same corner of the same trail I have hiked nearly daily for months, and frequently over years, I
see how one lichen-draped limb is curved into a rainbow of myriad greens
bowing in gratitude with palms together at my heart as I leave the sacred grove where beloved
Redcedar lives, I am suddenly struck with a potent insight from my first vision fast
fourteen years ago … the traditional singing I heard in the barren empty desert on the
third day of that four-day spiritual quest is actually the song that is within me, not
outside of me.
I have long known that nature is a mirror of the human soul. This has been at the center of my heart, my research, my professional work for decades. So I found it especially profound when, just yesterday, I was instantly offered this insight seemingly out of nowhere and unbidden by thought. How could I not have realized this those fourteen years ago – that I am the carrier of that song? The chorus and melody of that song play within me and echo out into the world …
The miraculous sacred resides in the holy everyday landscape and our intimate relationship with each of her beings. The seed of revelation can be broken open to sprout - like fire working on the serotinous cone - with the simple task of attending to our Earth-kin.