I write this today a few days ahead of the massive climate walk-outs being planned this Friday across my country. For the past several weeks we’ve had temperatures in the mid-nineties. I’ve been at a point of panic about our environment and experiencing a bit of hopelessness. Today’s blog is about how I approach these topics in balance with my spiritual life.
When I first had my experiences of God and light, nature became much more alive to me. I was raised in a culture that disregarded nature. As a child I loved nature but had no language with which to approach it, and eventually stopped noticing it or feeling a part of it. My experience changed all of that. Nature pulsed with the beauty of God. I remember seeing a green aura flash out from a tree right before it toppled over and died while I was visiting my mom in the country. I felt deeply connected to animals, especially after meditating. I even lived in a cabin on 100 acres of woods for several years after my experience. Nature felt like home to me. As I became alive to God, nature became alive to me.
Now I’m learning how to balance my beautiful experiences with God and nature with meaningful action. I do many things personally to mollify myself and my family’s environmental footprint, such as composting, using reusable coffee cups, water bottles, and grocery bags, installing rain barrels to water the garden with, putting out bird and hummingbird feeders to feed our local birds, and planting native plants, to name a few. These things help me feel connected to caring for our planet, but I also feel so alone in them, and not everyone is in a place to take these kinds of actions. We need change on a larger scale to help stem the tide of climate change. We need all businesses on board. We need a shift in our mindset about how we treat and relate to the earth. We need to change the way to get from one place to another. We need to care for our most vulnerable communities.
Climate change is not a judgment from God, but a visible result of actions taken by humans. When I begin to despair about our planet, I try to remember that we can change our course, and that we can do it from a place of love for each other, for the animals, for the plants, and for the planet. Nature needs us, and we need nature. It’s part of why true spiritual awakening on the part of each human is so important. Humans in touch with their true divine nature and living into the unity of all life would not harm the planet or each other for profit.
How are you feeling about our environment? What actions do you take to live in accord with nature? What’s your favorite experience in nature? I’d love to hear about all of it! Comment below or message me on the contact page.
“Nothing in the life you lead is real, save your relationship with Me.”Conversations with God
I sometimes find myself feeling down after reading about the environment, something about which I care deeply. It’s hard not to. We are in the midst of a mass extinction of species, the rainforests keep getting cut down, and there is plastic all over the ocean. I would love to be able to fix all of these issues overnight, and while I do my part, I am just one person of many. In these times it helps me to remember that these issues are merely the result of actions by humans – it is a cause and effect. It feels hopeless and almost condemned, but I know we can begin to heal and fix this. Happily, many places and people are beginning to. It’s not all doom and gloom, and there are glimmers of hope if one only looks. (Here are a few links to see some positive environmental news: https://www.outsideonline.com/2395313/good-environmental-news-2019 and https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/category/news/environment/).
In times of sadness about our physical world, it also helps me to remember the quote I referenced above. This world truly is a shadow of the spiritual world. We can work to help heal ourselves and the environment knowing that God is eternal, and cannot be harmed.
Take time today to step softly on the earth. The earth holds so much and is going through powerful changes. How can we honor her? This is not just about doing the right thing as it pertains to the environment. It means developing a completely new way of approaching nature. It means learning to respect nature. It means beginning to see the holiness within nature. It means living as part of an ecosystem and respecting the lives of all within it.
In my society, in the world in which I was raised, the earth was here to be exploited. I never noticed trees with awe or appreciated birds and animals as creatures of God. Yes, I enjoyed nature as a kid would, climbing trees and playing outside, and of course, we loved our pets. However, my experience with God and my time spent with my stepfather brought me into a completely new appreciation of nature. Nature is holy and is best seen through the eyes of the heart.
After my experience with God, the natural world around me came alive. I began sensing the spiritual side of nature and could more easily connect with the trees and the animals. I had several powerful experiences of nature, including seeing a green aura around a tree before it fell over and died. It really took me by surprise! It took some time to understand, but I eventually came to realize that nature is as alive as you and me, and that it comes from God.
I hope that wherever you live, you can have a chance in some way to connect with nature today, whether it is being in a forest, watering a plant, or appreciating the light of the sun. When I am still, I imagine a world in which all people respect nature. I imagine that our waterways are clean, our animals are cared for, and that everyone has access to healthy soil, water, and green places. We are part of the natural world, too.
As I write to you, I’m sitting outside in our pocket of the city, listening to birds begin their chirping and watching the sunlight begin to brighten the sky. Though we live in an industrial city, I’m grateful for the pocket of nature we’ve created for ourselves. It’s never far from my mind that this land was once a forest populated by First Peoples who lived in greater harmony with the land. Though I live in this now-industrial city in a capitalistic society, nature is still here. Nature comes from God. Following the breath of nature puts us in touch with the heart of God.
Growing up, I did not know how out of touch I was with nature until I learned how to be in touch with it. My stepdad in particular taught me so much about being in touch with trees and all things growing, and how to have a true respect for the land. He taught me about the four directions, plants to eat and use, how to plant seeds with care and love, and how to care for and be in touch with the earth. Until that time I had such a profound disconnection from nature that mirrored my disconnection from myself and my heart.
Environmental news these days can be devastating, but it is not the end. We are still here. We still have a chance each day to connect and care for nature. If you live in a city, is there are park nearby? Can you visit public lands? Plant beautiful houseplants? I find the most effective connection I make to nature is when I care for the small land around me by gardening and looking after the birds that make their homes in the trees around us. Let nature guide you by spending time in whatever natural habitat you can get to. You will feel your heart open and your breath slow. Nature comes from God. Nature heals.
I grew up in the suburbs, right near the mall and a large interstate. There was not much nature in my life, and almost no appreciation of nature. There was little if any effort to connect to nature or the earth, and a mostly “take-take-take” attitude towards the physical bounty around us. There was a beloved Magnolia tree in the neighbor’s front yard that we loved to climb – until we were told it was not safe to climb due to the electrical wires running through it. And that was about it. As a child it seemed that the streets went on forever. There was no idyllic nature. I didn’t even know enough to long for it. It just was not. Nature didn’t exist and didn’t matter.
Having my experience with God greatly shifted my relationship towards the earth. I started noticing trees and the earth more. I wanted to be outside more. After my experience with God, I remember a very strong longing to just go and live in the woods and be one with God. I didn’t know what that meant, but it’s all I felt like doing. Eventually, I did rent a very run-down cabin on some woods for several years after I finished graduate school. I still worked and had friends, but I spent all my down time very alone in the woods. It was not glamorous, but it was very grounded. I had some of the most psychic dreams I’ve ever had in my life while living out there. I spent long hours sitting with the trees and got to know the flora and fauna around me.
My time with my stepfather also shifted my attitude towards nature greatly. He had a completely different perspective of nature than anyone I’d ever met, which included a holy attitude of reverence for the earth. He taught me so much, by the stories he told, and by his whole being. The earth was a blessing, not something to be used and exploited.
It has been hard to live in an industrial city where I live now. I long for open fields and forests, but I know my life is supposed to be where I am now. Nature is so grounding and healing. How do I stay in touch with nature? I spend time in our yard and try to garden. I talk to the trees and teach my daughter to talk to them too. I feel them holding us. I feed the birds and keep track of them. And, knowing that it is a privilege to have access to the natural world at all, I do what I can to help others have access to nature, like donating monthly to our local public nature reserve, as well as to national advocacy organizations.
What do you do to stay in touch with nature? Do you feel it’s important for your healing process? I’d love to hear from you.