Learning From Nature

During the last days of November, I spent a week on Bowen Island studying Compassion. Compassion for ourselves (a tough one); and compassion for others, those close and far away. We also studied compassion for nature.

Our exercise during this part of the week was to go outside and spend an hour in nature, find something that spoke to us and attempt to write their story. It could be a tree, a rock, a leaf or anything from the natural world. Luckily, it had stopped raining. We wandered off in all directions. When we came back, we shared what we had discovered. First with one other and then with the group, if we chose. Some amazing poems were shared.

My adventure went this way: for any of you that remember the movie Paint Your Wagon, you will remember that Clint Eastwood sang. “I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me, I talk to the trees, but they never answer.” The trees, Arbutus, fir and cedar, were preparing for winter and pulling their energy into the centre of themselves.

I talked to the clouds, but they hurried on. They had a mission, you see, to the west of here. The sun was busy doing what it needed to do after all the rain of the past few days.

Several small birds chirruped to let me know they were pleased to see me, but as with all small birds, their attention span was minute.

A lone mushroom shared that she was waiting for the garden fairies to appear and create a picnic, but perhaps it was the wrong season for that. She had faith, however, that some would appear.

Finally, as my time outdoors was running out, I came upon three orphans. Three brilliant-red maple leaves. I could not see the tree they may have come from, so they were pleased to be acknowledged and began, as a trio, to sing the song of their unfurling in spring and dancing through the summer with many of their kin. Then came the exciting days of fall, where colours changed, and they knew it would soon be time to dance with the wind and fly away free.

Together, we concluded it was fine for me to pick them up and lay them on a log, so they could sing their swan song and share their beauty with me. Sharing that impermanence is the way of creativity – and life.

If we listen, we can learn from all species, from nature – and each other.

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