Nature Is My Church
An “aha” moment is an intense flash of insight that compels you to take action. A moment such as this came during a benign drive from one playground to the next.
“You belong here,” a breathy voice echoed.
Security and calm washed over me.
Where did that voice come from?
I looked in my rearview mirror, and a sunbeam caught my children’s crystal blue eyes. Most of the time, they groan in protest when the sun pierces their peepers, temporarily inhibiting their ability to see. But this time, they both gazed forward, eagerness emanating, looking for what may have been the same answer I was.
Sage wisdom blessed me. Only a moment or two passed before I was on the phone with my husband. Authority and confidence bubbled up from my gut. I declared we should pack up our things and move north, away from our life in the city.
He didn’t bat an eye. He was all in.
Here we go.
Our expeditious plans knitted together; guided by a force larger than our human consciousness could comprehend.
The guidance dropped us off in a little corner of the country, surrounded by forest, a lake, and wildlife. The home–a beautiful tree-house-like structure built in the ’80s, with little updating.
It happened fast; divine timing at its finest.
Nature is Sanctuary
When my family and I moved our life to the north country of Minnesota, many stood stunned in disbelief that I, a tried and true Midwest suburban woman, was trading in her cardigans for flannel button-downs.
While in the city, my days consisted of rushing, traffic jams, and keeping up with the Joneses. It amazed me how much entertainment was available to me, yet I felt bored and exhausted. Even when I found my way to the few natural gems the city had, I still emerged feeling heavy and burdened.
I hated it. No part of me could sing the veritable song of what it meant to fully live–only groan muted half verses of a prayer that was meant to be sung loud and bold.
I craved living a life that was more farm to table, hunt, and gather, simple yet inspiring.
Moving away from civilization as we knew it provided the opportunity for me to sink into the wisdom and spirit of nature. The life we have created in the past year has taught me more about myself, what is important to me, and reconnected me to how I am meant to operate.
Our home is on the outskirts of town in northern Minnesota, tucked back a ways into the woods. We have a small lake in the back that is overrun with lily pads in the summer and slippery ice in the winter. The tree line is a mix of pine, birch, and maple, with a few spruce and oak dotted in to break up the sea of grandmother trees that have been there for hundreds of years.
It feels like God is kissing you on the forehead with the bright pink hues of the sunrise. Wisps of clouds painted on the sky, reminding me that each day is a blank canvas to create a masterpiece. The sunsets have a rounded cocooned feeling to them, like when a mother duck tucks in her chicks for the night under the warmth of her belly.
I feel tucked into the womb of the earth and reborn each day.
Never have I felt a more divine presence of, and deep connection with, a Source greater than I as I have felt in my time here.
I am not a religious person.
In fact, most of the dogma and rhetoric of organized religion confuses and suffocates me. My connection to spirit spans many years, lifetimes, and universes beyond what any modern religion has offered me as an answer to life’s most puzzling questions.
Nature’s wisdom teaches me what I need to know about myself, life, the world, God, and the deeper meaning of everything. I just look in my own backyard.
If you listen–like, really listen–you can hear the soft whispers of nature speaking to you. If you look–like, really look–you can see the condition of your heart mirrored back to you through nature. The thing is, you have to be still enough and patient enough to notice. Moreover, you have to push past the inhibition of distraction and judgment to conceive the deeper meaning.
One persnickety day, I went for a walk in the woods to stomp away frustration–as I have often come to do in my time living here. It was very early spring, quite warm, and the snow was only beginning to melt. The plopping sound of snow melting off the tips of the branches echoed throughout the forest. It sounds like rain but more percussive and meaningful. The forest is shedding its frozen layer to make space for the buds of leaves and flowers that are swelling beneath the ice. Spring is quite impatient here.
An hour of stamping and stomping passed before I stopped to listen to the plopping of melting ice.
I looked down.
The drips had made a perfect heart shape on a rock that lay beneath a maple tree. The heart was a coal color that appeared to egress up and out of the white snow; a natural optical illusion.
It was begging to be seen.
I looked in disbelief as nature taught me exactly what I needed to know. My heart had felt particularly cold, hard, and closed off that day. The snow’s softness surrounding the heart reminded me to be expansive, present, and patient. I could not speed up the melting process of my heart. Rather, I needed to be with it as the warmth of wisdom melted the awning of ice away. Realization that I was being as impatient as the season of spring made me giggle a little.
Once again, nature spoke to me to let me know I am seen and significant. My prayers are heard. I am part of a greater whole. My job is to receive the gifts; again, and again, and again.
Photo by Danielle Cotter