A Meditation on Our Mother: Nature


As I write this I’m preparing to host a day of meditation for a dozen people at our cabin in the mountains.  Unless it rains, some of that time will be spent outdoors. At an altitude of about 3,300 feet, we’re situated in an enchanted womb of a valley encircled by densely wooded mountains, most of which are named after animals or natural formations resembling familiar shapes. What will we see or hear as we meditate near the house, in the woods along the trail, or in the nearby national forest? What will we learn from our mother and the mother of all life?  How will she inspire and change us?
Our cabin is visited daily by several varieties of birds, including kingfishers, red tail hawks, hummingbirds and crows — or perhaps they’re ravens; I’m not sure how to tell the difference — squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons and rabbits.  Occasionally we see wild hogs, hedgehogs, turkeys, a great blue heron, deer, or black bear. Last week a glittering large — at least five feet long — black snake glided up the front porch steps, then, possibly deterred by the horrified energy emanating from a few frozen humans, veered off to the left and slithered down into the thick groundcover.
The pond has trout, and, apparently, a large turtle who sends intermittent pillars of bubbles to the surface.  Water skaters, dragonflies and other insects flit and flirt near the surface. Last night we saw fireflies. During the day we are serenaded by birds, bullfrogs and cicadas; at night by crickets and tree frogs.  We awaken and are lulled to sleep by the music of cool, rushing, boulder-skirting, rock-splashing water.
It’s impossible to take a walk without finding something that fascinates. Dead branches dotted with mounds of pale green ruffled lichen or shallow-bowled orange fungus beg to be picked up. Hornets vacate papier mache’ nests the size of cantaloupes. Discarded feathers, some alarmingly big, elicit excited cries of, “Oh, look what I found!” Cicadas, butterflies and moths abandon their husks on tree trunks, fence posts and porch railings. Daddy longlegs stalk the deck and scale the rocking chairs. Spider Woman awaits her lunch in shimmering webs beneath the eaves. We’re convinced there are fairies at the bottom of our garden.
When our grandchildren were here we talked about the perils of mushrooms, poison ivy, chiggers, wooly adelgid (a furry white parasite that’s killing our hemlocks), honey bees, yellow flies and stinging nettles. We identified the fern which emits a spicy-sweet earthen aroma we associate with this place. We picked and ate raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, squash, and zucchini. We discussed when to leave a bird’s nest where it is and when it’s okay to add it to our nature tray. They waded in the icy cold creek, slipped on mossy boulders, captured tadpoles and crayfish. They left some of their treasures — shiny sheets of mica, sparkly rocks, buckeyes or feathers — in a tree hollow used by fairies as a post office.  By the end of their visit the fairies discovered these gifts and left treasures in return.
It is impossible not to be awed, enchanted and enlightened by Mother Nature’s magic, yet how often we forget to notice the miracles she leaves for us just outside our doors. Lauren Hutton has said, “Anything, everything can be learned if you can just get yourself in a little patch of real ground, real nature, real woods, real anything … and just sit still and watch.”
We’ll open our inner doors to real things tomorrow. What will we learn about our own natures from meditating on Mother Nature? What have you learned?

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0 Responses

    1. Oh, Charlie! Thank you so much for adding this exquisite music to your comment. I just re-read my post while listening to it and hope everyone who visits here will do the same. It taps into a deeper level of feelings that add so much dimension to the written word. I’ve always loved the music you pick for your blog posts for the same reason.
      Our day of meditation was really wonderful. Meditating outdoors where we were surrounded by the life and beauty and music of nature did much the same thing for us that the music you choose for your posts does for the reader. Words and thoughts are always so much more inspiring when accompanied by sensory experiences, particularly when we choose to be fully present and aware of these experiences.

  1. What a beautiful post, Jeanie! I feel as if I’ve walked the nature trail on and around your property with you. It reminds me of our own land in Michigan (now sold as our children have grown and moved to various parts of the country…I live in California close to two of them and their families). What fun we had, following baby killdeer along the long driveway back to our house…quietly so as not to frighten them too much…as mother killdeer dived and chastised us and faked an injury on the ground to divert us from her precious tribe; foraging for blackberries, wild strawberries, and raspberries; picking wildflowers in late summer to dry for fall bouquets; teaching our children about edible mushrooms, medicinal herbs and other edible plants that grew freely on the land…nettle, plantain, mullein, alfalfa, ginseng, wild violets, wintergreen, milkweed (the seed pods), dandelions….building fairy houses in the woods…good memories all. Thanks for reminding me of Nature’s beauty and gifts!
    I know your meditation today will contain magic…

    1. Thank you, Jenna. It really was a magical day in many ways. New insights, deepened awareness, and all of it guided by our gifted teacher, Elizabeth Cohen, who taught us several kinds of meditation aimed at helping us live more mindfully.
      After reading your wonderful comment I’m inspired to learn more about medicinal herbs and edible plants. Perhaps I can find a book on the topic? I think that would be a great thing to teach our grandchildren! And what is a fairy house and how do you build it? I’d love to try that. I’m reminded of Carl Jung who discovered the therapeutic value of play and in his eldering years spent many happy hours by himself building pebble towns, streets, houses, etc. on the sandy shores of Lake Zurich. I want more of that for myself.

  2. Jeanie,
    The book we use for edible plants is a Peterson Field Guide of Eastern/Central edible plants titled Edible Wild Plants, copyright 1977 by Lee Peterson. It has great illustrations and a section of Color Plates. Another wonderful book with identifiable illustrations to use for mushroom foraging is the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. But I would suggest going mushroom hunting with an expert, first, as mushrooms can be dangerous. There are lots of books and blogs on herbs on the Internet. One of my favorites is Earl Mindell’s Herb Bible…listing uses and concoctions for 100 of the most commonly used herbs in North America.
    Fairy “houses” are made of twigs, leaves, flowers, and other found things in the woods, and are loosely constructed for staying in when fairies are traveling from place to place in the woods. We’ve found it to be fun and creative play to do with our young children. My grown daughter builds them with her three-year old, Serene, right in their back yard in California where a multitude of landscaped plants grow. Serene likes to put a little garden produce and water in her fairy houses, too, for the fairies to have something to eat and drink when they stay and, of course, an open flower for them to sleep in!
    I’ve found that playing this way in nature with my children and grandchildren does keep me in touch with the imaginative child I once was and is, as Jung found, a great way to stay in touch in touch with the Inner/Magical Child in later years.

    1. Jenny, thank you so much for this marvelous information! I have noted the Peterson and Mindell books and will order them. As for the fairy houses, I wish my grandchildren were here again so we could build them. Actually, maybe I’d better give it a try a few times on my own just to be sure I know how to do it! Fun.

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