This is an excellent essay, both highly relevant and "relatable" for (I think) many of us--certainly for myself. Some months ago, I moved from the city I called home into an open country community. It was a time of personal loss, and initially I felt very isolated. Multiple times in the course of each month, "business" of one sort or another has carried me into the city again. While at one time I looked forward to any occasion to return, I realized over time that this did nothing to calm my restlessness or assuage my longing for connection. I would leave depressed. I could not access the urban energy I had once imbibed freely. It was not my home. Last fall, I took a small step. I noticed one day near my new, rural home that my "up the road" neighbor had mown his field. I asked him if I could "walk his property." Without a moment's hesitation, he consented. At first, I would simply cross the field on clear nights, just far enough to move beyond the "'light pollution" and view the expanse of stars. I began to venture as far as the crest of the field, particularly at sunset. Gradually, I moved further into the land, carefully picking my steps along rugged swaths my neighbor has tractor-cleared. These paths wind through woodlands, glades,thickets, and creekbanks, diverging and reconnecting. What began as a dark, solitary space to look to the heavens imploring for light points of connection, has become a place for daytime communion with the living earth. I can linger by a small lake, or in a secluded knoll where the old family cabin still stands, or among enormous oaks clustered at the meadow's ridge. We are in spring here, and each day offers new signs of emergent life. Increasingly, I am aware of the hospitality offered me by the myriad inhabitants of this expanse of earth. They subtly disclose the nature of their--our--life together. They appear unexpectedly, affording generous glimpses of an unseen world. They invite me to re-inhabit my own inner landscape.
They buffer the violent places I find within myself. When I encounter desolation, they are quietly present.
They are the concelebrants of any new truth and beauty I discover. They move me toward a sustaining and sustainable life. Precisely because they offer such life to me--here and now and particularly for me--my self-pity gives way to compassionate awareness that such life is meant for all, all my kindred (and all ARE my kindred). I realize now that the nagging sense of "not-enoughness" I had been carrying with me in my human interactions has given way to a certain ease born of a new amplitude of spirit--and of new perception. Rachel Naomi Remen's citation of Proust ("The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new vistas, but in having new eyes") and Sarah Jean Hart summation of her own hopes (to remember that "beauty is not a quality to seek, but to see") lends voice to my own kindred feelings.
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