By Nancy R. Catan, BCBP Manila
During the past few months I have had the time and opportunity to “be”, to think, to remember, to contemplate on the meaning of life. It is all about being aware of the people, events and circumstances not only in the present moment, but also in the past. It became a remembering of those who had left their footsteps and fingerprints in my life in one way or another.
This journeying down memory lane first took me back to my childhood in the mountains of Vermont, USA. I grew up on a small family dairy farm in a rural area surrounded by fields, pasturelands and hilly woodlands. I loved the wide horizons, the changing seasons, the trees and flowers, our farm animals, the night skies full of stars.
Mother Nature was my friend, my closest friend. Whenever I had a problem to work out, wanted to get away from it all, or wanted to share my happiness with her, I would go for a walk up into the hills and woodlands. She always calmed me down, enhanced my happiness, and in a myriad of ways showed me that life is interesting, exciting, wild and wonderful once I opened my heart’s awareness to see, sense, and listen to the voices of her presence all around me. Through her, I became closer to God, the Creator of all Life.
She spoke to me of God’s love, of awareness, of life’s meaning, and the importance of just “being” through the slow but steady opening of the petals of a spring flower, the warm scent of summer singing in the breeze, the mysterious rustle of vividly colored autumn leaves underfoot, the cold crisp softness of new fallen snow in the early winter morning. I experienced the seasons coming and going, but Mother Nature was always present and shared with me the wildness, the Godliness, and wisdom in them all.
City living tends to dull the “wild”. We become enmeshed in the hurried pace of back-to-back appointments and meetings, in the traffic that aborts our carefully planned schedules. Our horizons close in as higher and bigger buildings block out the sky. We try to do all the too many things that entice us with their advertising. We race through the present moment, busy planning for future moments.
We end up forcing Mother Nature into the tunnel of our own concentrated focus on “doing”. I believe this is one reason why we are facing serious environmental problems now. With our ears and our senses full of the noise and distractions of people, things, traffic, and doing, we ignore Mother Nature’s wisdom of “being”, of being aware of God’s Presence . We forget to care for our natural environment.
Nature is all around us. God is all around us. And yet how many times have we stopped for a moment to look up into the branches of a tree, to become one with the leaves, and thank Him? When was the last time you marveled at the flower growing beside the path, inhaled its fragrance, and listened to its happy song?
“What song does a flower have?” The song of Nature is there for the listening. “Be here now, be my friend, the present moment of life is now, I am rejoicing, are you?” The listening, not just with your ears but, more so, with all your senses, and most of all, with your heart – the listening to the wisdom of Mother Nature is everything. We might also term this as contemplative awareness of the presence of God.
Back to Nature. Wherever we are, in the mountains, along the seashore, in the city, in the province, there is Mother Nature. There is God. They are always in the present; they journey with us through the cycles of our life. They call us back to nature, back to “being”, back to the meaning of life.