Inner  Frontier
Fourth Way Spiritual Practice

 

Inner Work


For the week of July 1, 2013

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Love of Nature

(Opening Our Heart: Part 4)

The natural world exerts an elemental attraction on us. Our own body is part of it, made from this Earth. Nature comes into our home in the form of pets, houseplants, sunlight, food, and as the very materials from which our dwelling is formed. As soon as we step outside, even in a densely urban setting, the sky is there, that spreading canopy of grace mirroring our limitless inner world. The songs of birds and frogs, cows and crickets, remind us of our visceral connection with all life. Yet what we see and hear of nature is only the surface of layer upon layer of unfathomed complexity, as told by science to our increasing our wonder. Forests and deserts, farmlands and mountains, oceans and rivers, each with its own ever-changing beauty, give us a feeling of rightness, that this remarkable world of nature embraces, enlivens, delights, inspires, and uplifts us. We feel its boundless freedom and unimaginable beauty awakening the same in us. We are children of this natural world from which we have arisen and in which we live.

Nature can teach us about time scales, from the short life of insects to the eons of galaxies. Stand for a few moments near a large tree and open your being to it. It stands and you stand. The tree has been rooted to its place for decades or even centuries. It stands in eternity. Slow down to the pace of the tree. Though lacking the capacity to move, except through its offspring, the tree lives. Its days come and go, as wind, rain, and drought nurture and assail it, as it cycles through the weeks and the seasons, the cold and the heat, the light and the dark. Yet the tree remains steadfast, sometimes bending, sometimes breaking, but always maintaining its stand in eternity. Be with the tree in the timeless time of seasons and years. Let the tree open your perception of the eternity within.

Nature can teach us to love. While the life of species can be robust, the life of individuals is fragile and fleeting, two qualities that awaken our compassion and love. The very young, of both animals and people, in their newness and purity, beauty and need, draw our hearts to them. Practice allowing your heart to open to animals, starting with the very young animals. For many people, this comes naturally, but for all of us it can be a source of light in our life.

Native peoples have held and still hold nature sacred. This does not necessarily mean that we need to worship nature as we would worship God. But certainly this creation we find ourselves a part of calls us to consider it and treat it as sacred. When we walk in nature we walk in hallowed precincts. In some places this is more obvious than in others. For example, there is an area in the Canyonlands National Park, below the Island in the Sky, nearly encircled by immense rock walls in hues of ochre, forming a natural temple that holds a correspondingly immense silence, a stillness that can lift you into the stillness of the eternal and the Divine.

But even in our own back yard, in our streets and local parks, nature displays its ever-changing beauty, adapting to conditions with the irrepressible force of life finding a way toward growth. Let the force of your own life bring you back to this precious moment, again and again, so that you may live in it. Let that force of life find its way through your heart.

The sunís light reveals nature to us. It illuminates all and stands as a symbol of the Divine beneficence, always giving. Let the outer light of the sun awaken you to the inner light within you. Let that inner sacred light pour forth.

For this week, open your heart to nature.


     

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