During the weeks I spent in Europe this spring, I got reacquainted with the power of the natural world to quiet my mind so that my heart will be able to hear anything at all.
For I have found that the voice that guides and assists it is soft and subtle, and drowned out by the din of life and the world. I have to make an effort to turn away from the chaos if I hope to hear this companion.
Because of the wide-open nature of so many settings in Germany, the sky is a constantly-changing panorama that I found myself stopping to watch like a movie, and there was always something on the horizon I set out on a long walk simply to see up-close.
Ironically, more often than not I never made it there because I was waylaid by something magnificent along the way: the slant of the light on a field; the shape of a lone tree in the midst of hectares of rolling hills; one small, stunning blossom on a branch that brushed me as I walked past, like a woods creature trying to get my attention.
When I sit inside for too long, hunched over a screen of some sort, my view narrows to a piteously small scope that has no room for wonder or miracles, in part because it doesn’t know what they even are.
The mind — the human nature — is here to solve basic problems of practical life. Period. It will always bog down without exercise, both physical and spiritual, and life couldn’t have made this easier to attain. All I have to do is go outside, under the sky.
“Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator,” Baha’i writings remind, adding that it also offers many signs for souls that wish to discern them.
“Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.”
My special thanks to Nelson Ashberger for the use of these photos, some of the signs he encountered on one of his own recent sojourns in the natural world.