EngagePerspectivesFinding Stillness in Nature
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Finding Stillness in Nature

Living through the COVID-19 pandemic has increased my sensitivity to my surroundings. Since our home has become workplace, school, place of leisure and all else, leaving it to enter another environment elicits a markedly different response than it would have last year.

rocks in Seneca Falls

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

– Lao Tzu


Nature, in particular, has had an awe-inspiring effect. Walking or hiking outside has connected my eyes to my heart and mind in a new way. It might take me a minute to get there, I might need to work off some pent up energy from sitting too long but every single time I spend time outside, I will round a bend in a forest path and like a force I will be hit by beauty. More than ever before I’ve noticed my sharp intakes of breath during these moments.

This natural beauty invites my mind into stillness and from that stillness as Lao Tzu says there comes a kind of wonder to which “the whole universe surrenders.” Suddenly, I see things and am curious about them and I am open to learn from them. The complexity of the natural world does not overwhelm or demand attention the way the digital world can, it must be observed quietly and unobtrusively.

Metaphors abound in the natural world and another truth of Lao Tzu that “nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” can be discerned. There is peace in the natural rhythms. There is activity in nature (and there must be for survival) but it is purposeful; though complex and often mysterious, directionality can be traced.

We may need the stillness and rhythms of nature more than ever as August 2020 dawns. Many aspects of our lives seem so unsettled and precarious.  Like water that is agitated, hearts can feel equally unsettled. It reminds me of another line from Lao Tzu, “Let it be still and it will gradually become clear.”  I invite you to discover what brings you stillness within, maybe it is nature, maybe it is something else, but I wonder if, like Lao Tzu, clarity will emerge from letting the many things settle within at a gentle but gradual pace. I invite you to find some of that internal space by entering natural space and allowing it to speak to you. That stillness is not only rest for the mind it can be a spark of wonder to which “the whole universe surrenders.”

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