Today’s post is from the writings of the late Gerald May (April 2017 eNews)
…Nature’s teaching is also a healing. And though we must indeed be taught, it is the healing that we need most. We have been fractured. We have been broken off from the nature of the world, broken away from the nature of one another, broken apart from our own nature. The pain of this breach is so constant that we have become accustomed to it; it feels normal. The pain is with us every day, when we judge ourselves and others, when we struggle for control, when we draw circles around ourselves that shut others out, when we long for a connectedness we cannot find, when we try to help one another and it’s never enough, and, perhaps most of all, when we go outdoors and feel that Nature is something different from us.
You and I and every other human being on earth are part of Nature. Like it or not, our buildings, roads, billboards, and junkyards are part of Nature. The smoke from our factories and the waste from our refineries are part of Nature. And all the things we do to try to protect the environment and save endangered species: these too are part of Nature. But no matter how kindly we feel, we will never be able to participate in healing the world around us as long as we keep seeing Nature as something different from ourselves.
Some of us still see the earth as an enemy, something to conquer, subjugate, and squander. More of us, thank God, now see it as something to cherish and to care for. But even in our cherishing, the earth remains an “it,” a “something,” an object that is not us. The popular language is “stewardship of the environment.” Stewards are managers, overseers, caretakers, and no matter how benevolent they are, they must forever remain apart from that which they care for. We do not know who we really are in the world, and like zeal-blinded missionaries trying to help what they consider to be a primitive tribe, our well-meaning hands become abusive.
Before we can effectively heal the wounds we have inflicted upon the rest of Nature, we must allow ourselves to be healed. And we must allow the rest of Nature to help us. I do not know exactly how the healing happens; I only know a little bit of what has happened to me. I am sure you, also, have had some experience of it. It can happen in very ordinary situations, like feeling your hands in the dirt of a garden or lying on your back in a field. In part, it happens just through the physical touch of earth and sky and growing things. This physical, healing touch has to go deep within us to where we are truly broken. For me, the deep touching happens when my mind stops and my senses open and I am given willingness. I have never been able to do this for myself. It has to come through grace, in the Presence of the One I called the Power of the Slowing, the Wisdom of the Wild.
From Gerald May, The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2006.