The heady first moments of love are a vortex. They cause swirls of emotion, the forgetting of time…and the writing of gushy letters to the object of our love.
Once we step off the perches of this dizzying elixir, we see that our relationships with others and the love that emerges must be founded on our relationship with (and love for) ourselves, and who are we, if not creatures intimately bound up with the Earth, as a geographic, environmental and spiritual space?
Throughout our lives, we are moving with the tides of our primary relationships. We have these with our parents and siblings, certainly, as well as other key, early influences. We also have this, essentially and always, with nature.
It’s no wonder writers have long expressed, through their poetry, letters and other form of writing, their wonder—rapture, really—at the bounty of Earth’s offerings. Earth is where we can be nourished, sustained, reclaimed.
Sometimes, in my own writing, I struggle to find the words to express the magnitude of what bubbles up inside of me—the muse is a fickle, if brilliant and cathartic one!
I love turning to the inspired writings of others, who capture in so many different voices and so beautifully, what it means to live among the elements that shape and define us and accompany us on our life journey.
I hope you enjoy these stunning expressions of love for the nature that permeates our lives.
1. A Letter to Nature by Sue Monk Kidd
I love this tree.
I love the light filtering through the moss and the leaves.
I love all your earth songs — the breeze rustling through the grass, the rhythm of the crickets, the beating of the wings.
Here, surrounded and permeated by your creation, I feel you. I feel life. I know myself, connected.
O God, is there anything you’ve made that can’t pour life and healing into me?
When I think of the simplicity and extravagance of creation, I want to bend down and write the word “yes” across the earth so you can see it.
2. Excerpt from his book, Love Letter to the Earth, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
We can be like the Buddha, and in difficult moments touch the Earth as our witness. We can take refuge in the Earth as our original mother. We can say, “I touch the pure and refreshing Earth.” Whatever nationality or culture we belong to, whatever religion we follow, whether we’re Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, or atheists, we can all see that Mother Earth is a great bodhisattva. When we see her in this way, with all her many virtues, we will walk more gently on her and treat her and all her children more gently. We will want to protect her and not harm her or any of the myriad forms of life she has given birth to. We will stop wreaking destruction and violence on Mother Earth. We will resolve the question of what we mistakenly call “the environmental problem.” The Earth is not just the environment. The Earth is us. Everything depends on whether we have this insight or not.
When you’re able to see the Earth for the bodhisattva that she is, you will want to bow down and touch the Earth with reverence and respect. Then love and care will be born in your heart. This awakening is enlightenment. Don’t look for enlightenment elsewhere. This awakening, this enlightenment, will bring about a great transformation in you, and you’ll have more happiness, more love, and more understanding than from any other practice. Enlightenment, liberation, peace, and joy aren’t dreams for the future; they’re a reality available to us in the present moment.
3. Excerpt from her poem, God the Artist, by Angela Morgan.
God, when you chiseled a raindrop,
How did you think of a stem,
Bearing a lovely satin leaf
To hold the tiny gem?
How did you know a million drops
Would deck the morning’s hem?
Why did you mate the moonlit night
With the honeysuckle vines?
How did you know Madeira bloom
Distilled ecstatic wines?
How did you weave the velvet disk
Where tangled perfumes are?
God, when you thought of a pine tree,
How did you think of a star?
4. Morning Rain, by Tu Fu.
A slight rain comes, bathed in dawn light.
I hear it among treetop leaves before mist
Arrives. Soon it sprinkles the soil and,
Windblown, follows clouds away. Deepened
Colors grace thatch homes for a moment.
Flocks and herds of things wild glisten
Faintly. Then the scent of musk opens across
Half a mountain—and lingers on past noon.
5. “Nature” is what we see, by Emily Dickinson.
“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse—the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.
6. The Endearing Sea, by Dobashi Jiju.
As I lived far away from the sea,
it gradually passed more out of my mind every day,
like its distance.
After days and days,
it became like a dot, no longer looking like a sea.
I felt compelled to go the movies
to see the sea
on the screen.
But when I slept at night,
the sea came to me, pushing down my chest
and raising clear blue waves.
I just slept, even in the daytime,
the sea kept mounting big waves
on my chest,
covering me with spray from a storm.
And sometimes it washed up beautiful white bones,
which had sunk to its bottom,
up around my ribs.
Bonus: How can I resist including a Kerouac quote here?
“Maybe that’s what life is … a wink of the eye and winking stars.”