“Look deep into Nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein
What does Nature mean to you? Is it part of your spiritual life? What has it taught you?
This year Mother’s Day fell on a Sunday. Knowing that would be the sermon topic at church that day, I decided to spend the morning with the only mother I still have, Mother Nature. I was longing to be with her after days of torrential rains, and it was unlikely to rain that morning, so I headed to Beaver Dam Lake and the Bird Sanctuary to meditate.
It was lovely. A gentle breeze blew through the warm air and caressed me. My soul opened letting the concerns of the day drop away. I started walking through the Bird Sanctuary at one end of the lake and followed a rough path around a small pond where I used to see beautiful egrets balancing on one leg. I was startled. Something had changed. The pond was perfectly still and covered with scum and debris. Just beyond it, the lake it fed into sparked blue and green in the morning light. “How strange, “I thought, “they usually take excellent care of this place.”
As the path led away from the pond, I followed it along the far side of the lake, and after a while, realized I was on an old path. The new path was above me. “Oh well,” I decided, “if this ends and I have to back-track, that’s okay. All I care about is being here.”
Finding a Higher Path
Eventually the path ended in a pile of logs, but as soon as I stepped over them, I was on the higher main path. Not having been to this side of the lake in a couple of years, I realized I was already a long way from where I started. Something was different. The lake seemed larger and I couldn’t see the bridge across the end of the lake. Did they move it? Had it been near where the boats were docked? I couldn’t remember.
Before long, the path moved out from under the trees, and as the sunlight flooded over me, I felt such a joy being in nature. But again, I was confused as I walked down the street because it took me further than before past houses that I had never seen. The path below the houses’ backyards that bordered the lake at this end had always been private, but now a dirt path led from the street to the path along the water. It appeared to be public, so while I followed it to be closer to the water, I also felt a bit like a trespasser. Besides, at this point I felt adventurous and was beginning to enjoy Mother Nature’s surprises.
The path wound around the lake bringing me to the bridge I had imagined was closer to the Sanctuary. I stopped and took in the immense beauty of the lake, shining clean and bright in the morning light. I smiled, delighted that what I thought would be a routine hike had been a bit of an adventure.
The Other Side
The walkway leading back to the parking lot and Bird Sanctuary was clearer and more formal, winding around the side of the lake near the street where traffic noise invaded the silent beauty of nature. By the time I reached the Bird Sanctuary, I was sweating and thankful for the cooling shade of the trees. Resting at one of the overlooks on the water I could see the full view of the lake.
A young boy with his parents were there, insistent that he could climb a tree with only vertical branches. Wedging his feet against opposite branches, he made some progress, but eventually gave up. As I turned to leave, a woman I knew who was a nature lover and birder appeared and we shared stories for a few minutes. Then she went her way and I walked in the opposite direction to my favorite ancient tree. I hugged it as I always do, then sat on the nearby bench scanning the water-filled cove for ducks or turtles. A Tiger Swallowtail flitted around the cove and what may have been a Monarch butterfly surveyed the area.
We Are All One
Another mother with a young boy appeared on the path and she and I visited as the boy climbed the ancient tree whose branches were perfectly placed for climbing. At a limb half-way up, the boy settled in.
“Aren’t you going further?” his mother asked surprised.
“No,” he replied smiling. “I’m good.”
The mother looked at me as if to say, “that’s a first.” Then she asked me, “Are you a mother?”
“No, I’m not.” I replied.
She continued, “Do you have a mother who is still alive?”
“No, I don’t.”
By this time the boy had come down from the tree. “Well, Happy Sunday then,” she said smiling as they turned to continue down the path.
Until the woman posed her questions, I had forgotten it was Mother’s Day. When I’m with Mother Nature, all of life, past and present, is One. While I miss my mother and grandmother, they have been gone a long time and without them, it made perfect sense to be with the only other mother I still have.
All Is Well
After a while, I returned to the entrance of the Sanctuary and discovered why the small pond there was such a mess. There was a sign explaining that it was an ecofilter wetland. In other words, it was the place where the water coming from the stream that fed the lake was cleansed, filtering out toxins naturally so only clean water could feed the lake. “Brilliant!” I thought, greatly relieved that the area was not being neglected.
As I turned toward the parking lot nearby, my phone rang and it was my husband letting me know he was heading home from church. The timing was perfect. Filled with happiness and peace, I took one last look at the sanctuary – the perfect place for me that morning, as well as for the birds.
© 2018 Georganne Spruce
Where is your perfect place?
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