Monday, August 15, 2011

Gifts of Nature

Wherever I am at any given moment on this planet, I am always open to receiving the wisdom so freely given by nature.
My usual walk through the countryside, though accompanied by a constant drizzle of rain, was made more beautiful by opening my heart to the deeper levels of what lay before me.
Rain. How often do we disdain rather than be grateful for this sometimes elusive gift, especially when we live in an area that receives more than its share. While in San Antonio recently, I observed my host jumping from his seat to watch a passing 5 minute shower, hoping, praying that it would last long enough to end an almost year long drought. He spoke of the “rain lilies,” a flower that only appears after enough rain has fallen. None appeared the next morning and that neighborhood in Texas continued their vigil with heads turning toward the heavens with undaunted faith.
As I walked I thanked the rain for feeding the wildflowers, grasses, and trees that grace my yard; for filling my well so I can quench my thirst, enjoy a refreshing shower, wash my clothes, and fill buckets to keep my home clean; and finally for dowsing me with hope that keeps my heart and eyes forever scouting for rainbows.
And in spite of the rain, or more likely because of it, nature was bursting with messages. As I watched the creek water slipping over the rocks, she told me to keep dancing and singing as she does no matter what kind of news is circulating. She goes on, sometimes racing toward a destination, sometimes pooling to provide a cooling respite for frogs and fish. She eases her way over and around obstacles. All this she does while her bubbling song fills the air.
Trees. So many varieties reaching toward the light, reaching out to one another, sinking their toes deeper into the rich nourishment that supports them. One little walnut called to me as I looked right through a hole piercing her entire being near the base. There appeared to have been an ambitious woodpecker who left several attempts, then finally succeeded in drilling all the way to the other side! Though the little walnut had been invaded and used, she stood tall as every leaf-filled, green branch attested to her strength and fortitude.
On a walk through a well-known battlefield, a friend commented on an ancient sycamore. The first twenty feet or so were knarled, twisted, and knotted, while the upper portion grew gracefully with her branches reaching this way and that like a seasoned ballerina. My friend imagined that the knots and tumor-like knobs were from the trauma of witnessing war. But then as the tree matured, the war a distant memory, she recovered and moved on with a determined beauty. I thanked the trees for telling me to keep growing, have faith, and to steady myself by focusing on what’s truly important.
Flowers. Chicory is commonly a cornflower blue roadside flower. Known as a healthful stand-in for coffee, chicory like most plants possesses medicinal qualities. Aside from these facts, I viewed the chicory through the eyes of the heart and saw how he thrives in the harsh, pebbly, salt laden, conditions closest to the road. One little chicory flower stood out adorned in the purest white; more pure than one would expect from something constantly exposed to carbon monoxide and soot. These soldiers of the flower world practically shout, “I’m a survivor!” Together they folded up their individual petals as though to make sure their undersides were washed clean in the rain. Then, when I visited them awhile later, they had all unfurled themselves to try catching any fleeting rays of sunlight that might be pushing through the clouds. Again I offered my thanks for this subtle display of courage and the ability to flow with the rhythms of their surroundings.
May you be blessed by these gifts of nature and find many more of your own!