One of my readers responded recently with a note about the value of his “dogs, garden, and wild life” in his spiritual life. His response really spoke to me and reminded me of my own affinity with the natural world and helped to ground me on that occasion, bringing me down from the lofty heights of the aether that I often get intoxicated with when I trot this “stuff” out. I have two dachshunds who just thrill my soul each day, a desert garden that I hope to see bloom again real soon, and birds, bunny rabbits, skunks, and coyotes that live in the neighborhood. This earth, and this “dust of the earth” of which each of us is a particle, is the only thing that is in a very real sense. And all this “stuff” that I discourse about…though important…is only about a context that gives meaning to all of this beautiful world.
Here is a link to Wendell Berry reading one of my favorite poems in which he recognizes the “Peace of Wild Things” and notes the comfort he finds there. And he speaks of the “wild heron” which adorned the lovely Beaver Lake on which I lived for 21 years in Northwest Arkansas before I moved here to New Mexico. And he noted how that these beautiful birds and other “wild things” do not “tax their thoughts with forethought of grief.” Berry was telling us of the importance of living in “The Now” which is the term that Eckhart Tolle coined to speak of the Presence which is the only thing that ever is. Our culture teaches us to live in the past and in the future and rewards us for doing so; thus it is a real challenge to ever-live in the present. I’m sure having trouble doing it!