Nature: A Napkin Sketch of Us

Nature is the mirror of mystery of us. I ask not that it explain. Nature wends and winds. If there is such a thing as truth then it is there, not in words or form, but in its ineffable being. The beauty of nature is that it transcends the notions of beauty. Nature is beautiful because it does not judge; nor can it be judged. Nature is beautiful because it underlies and overwhelms, all. Nature is a still pond in mourning where the silhouette of Narcissus is not beguiled. I turn to nature for the answers that lie deep in the marrow of a consciousness I share with it. To enter nature is to be a molecule of water returning to the cloud.

“It is the frail and weary weed, in which God dresses the soul which he has called into time.” ~ Michelangelo

Thus is beauty defined. A world of weeds. There, by the roadside, where the lip-stained ends of castaway cigarettes dream of fingerprints and mouths in the sporadic glittering of bottle shards and safety glass. To the weeds, children, to the nameless things that ever grow.

Even a tree in a parking lot is enough. I gather more strength and inspiration from a blade of grass pushing up through a crack in the sidewalk than I do from a lonely spire of Yosemite granite. What is this? Nature is not epic or far-flung. It need not be immersive. Nature isn’t a place or a thing. Nature is an idea; it has no shape or color and yet it encompasses all that we know; now.

“The things that are seen are temporal, the things that are unseen are eternal.” ~ Emerson

I don’t know this nature. Sunlight. Growth. Phototropism. Names. Everything in packages. Everything a category. But I’m not buying it. There is something happening there I can feel but never name. It’s like a secret message or a code. Something is trapped, or stranded. It’s as if somebody is trying to communicate from beyond the known world. I have my theories but they don’t matter now. This thing called Nature is part of me, or I am part of it, like music or my family, only greater. Jung talks about his collective subconscious as if it’s some kind of invisible cloud. But what if it was visible and tangible and we were in it all the time? Maybe I turn to nature to tap into YOU.

Nature is surprise, it is revelation. The surprise discovery, the surprising simplicity woven from seeming complexity. It is synchronicity, the unforeseen connections that are bestowed upon us when approach it with humility. Nature is grace incarnate. Nature will always always offer truth when one surrenders to it on its terms. Nature is the greatest living teacher, the most generous and just. It is the collective heart of us, ever reminding us that love transcends form, that neither it nor us are bodies. Nature is the machine we created to escape from God; and the sign that guides us to return.

It’s some kind of porthole, or portal. But it doesn’t lead out, it leads in. It’s counterintuitive but maybe that’s the idea. It’s sort of a neat trick, the whole thing, because you’re seeing it with your eyes, you’re really invested in the perception, but something is happening beyond or beneath that the known senses cannot grasp. You really get this when you stare up at the night sky in the middle of nowhere. At first you’re awed but then you laugh because none of it makes any sense. That’s it then. Sense that points to non-sense. Everything that nature seems to be telling me is what you see is not what you get, nor is what you hear or feel with your fingers. You can marvel at the science and the disturbing persistence of it all, how it just surges and surges, endlessly mocking our notion of time and Self, it’s not as complex or mysterious as it seems. Nature is not God. It’s a reflection. It’s us.  God had anything to do with it.

It’s when you’re no longer in an environment, or a mindset of Self, and the concepts of past and future become utterly meaningless in light of scale, both physical and temporal, and you transcend your body, and the story that is your life, and you are suddenly and strangely in communion with all that ever was or ever will be, everywhere. That’s nature. That is my definition. It’s where the where goes to be reborn.

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