On one fragrantly warm and sunny spring morn, I awoke to the cheery birdsong of dawn and found that my entire being was bursting with excitement over the bright new day. Budding life whispered to me from the fertile earth and the alpine air that was as sweet as sugared strawberries. My yearning spirit desperately wanted to sample these special offerings of spring in the mountains more directly. Happy to satisfy the gnawing hunger I felt growing within me, I quietly snuck out of my cabin and headed straight for the newly greened forest.
Birdsong chirped and trilled all about me.
High in a towering blue spruce, the resident crow cawed her routine greeting. Being neighborly, I immediately responded in kind and talked to her for some time. Cocking her glistening head this way and that, the crow curiously looked down at me and chortled back. How wonderful it'd be, I thought, if all the different species of life could truly understand one another through a single common language and actually converse. Ah, well.
Sunrays silently undulated down through the high pines, casting sprinkles of glittering light on leaves and pine needles. As the sun climbed, this molten gold spread in ever-widening tide pools over the forest floor. This ground beneath my feet was a carpet of rebirthing life. Infant leaves of all shapes and sizes, swaddled in many shades of newborn green, were reaching and stretching toward the nourishing brightness.
The awe of all this wonderful budding life, so precious and fragile, yet so incredibly tenacious, filled my senses. At this elevation of nearly 10,000 feet where I live in the Colorado Rockies, the pussy willow-like aspen buds had dropped away to reveal emerging leaves, bringing the delight of a new green tint throughout the woodlands. I'd waited with eager anticipation to see this happen, as my mountain elevation causes all of nature to trail a month or more behind its siblings in the cities and towns down below.
Whenever I'd have occasion to journey to Colorado Springs to do errands in May, the city's nature would already be wearing deep green garb and flowering trees would be dressed in a profusion of blossoms, while the nature surrounding my cabin high up on the mountain would still be in winter white. Seeing this great disparity always brought about in me a great eagerness for my neighboring woods to catch up. So now, when the first of June showed its face and the trees around my cabin finally showed signs of rubbing the long winter's nap from their sleepy eyes, I too felt an exploding sense of rebirth and felt magnetically drawn to the new life that was birthing all around me. This is how I came to be in the forest on such a warm and bright early June morn. My woods had finally awakened.
I had no worn footpaths through these forests, for my journeys through them would always follow the wanderlust of my free spirit. This particular morn was no different as I carefully picked my way through the dense new growth of golden pea, wild strawberries, white fleabane, and lavender asters. I had no preplanned destination in mind. Instead I focused on merely enjoying all that I saw and felt within nature's pure essence.
Wafting up from the earth was a fertile fragrance that brought strong impressions of a verdant life force, which I likened to the Earth Mother's umbilical, throbbing with enough nutrients to sustain all of nature's thirsting needs. And the scent, the scent was her womanly fragrance of pungent fertility.
As the warming sunlight pranced atop the tender greenery around my feet, I felt as though I'd been drawn into its merriment while it also tiptoed with the touch of fairy feet over my head and across my shoulders.
The light breath of breeze gently rustled the baby aspen leaves and hushed a soothing lullaby that blended with the cheery birdsong. Such magical music brought out in me a heart smile that surely would be shared by all who heard it.
The chiming music of nature.
Nature dancing and hypnotically swaying to its own lilting rhythm of life, its own fragile, yet eternally strong, drumming heartbeat. The heartbeat giving evidence of the tender metered pulse of the Old Woman of the Woods's eternal, living presence. Her sacred Presence was all about me. Her life force provided the beat of nature's sweet song, for truly I knew that walking into these living woods was the same as walking through the very soul of Her. Therefore, I placed each of my footsteps ever so softly and attentively lest I unintentionally cause Her pain or disrupt the soft and soothing rhythm of Her pulse.
Carefully I moved deeper and deeper into the woodlands while my hungry soul began satiating itself with the sensual natural offerings. Now that this high country earth had become provocatively warm and fertile once again, there was so much to look at, so many new wonders to notice and take in that my senses verged on overload.
Tingling with sensory fulfillment, I forced myself to pause and catch my breath. I held the moment suspended.
I closed my eyes.
And slowly exhaled.
When I opened them again, something stark white in the distant greenery caught my eye. I had the sense that I was no longer alone, that some dynamic Presence had joined me, that the Old Woman of the Woods had silently sidled up beside me, pointing Her golden finger at something She wished me to go look at.
Granting Her wish, I cautiously wove my way through the infant undergrowth. And to my amazement, when nearing the sunlit whiteness, I saw a lone mariposa lily in full bloom. It was far too early in the season for these mountain wildflowers to appear; they normally don't blanket the hillsides and forest floors until July. What a wonder this was. What a discovery it was to come upon this solitary lily standing so beautiful and apart from the rest of the newly sprouting carpet of thriving greenery.
Without daring to touch the fragile blossom, I glanced about for a proper place to sit without disturbing any growing things. I wanted to just sit and look at the fantastic discovery and think about the unexpected presence of this small but majestic woodland wonder.
Its stem was tall and strong.
The blossom, white as new-fallen snow on Christmas Eve.
Within the petals' sweet depths, the deep maroon lining was rich and called to mind the velvety, royal purple robes of Camelot's Queen Guinevere. The word stately quickly came to mind. This lone lily was stately. It was stately in its own natural beingness. Indeed, its pure beauty needed no admiration of mine or anyone else's to give it purpose or reason to exist.
So too is the inner beauty of every single individual. Every person on this planet has an incredible uniqueness that is her or his own singular imprint, a characteristic exclusiveness that shines forth from the core beingness and is as strikingly beautiful and distinctive as that pristine mariposa lily standing apart from all other life-forms growing in those deep woods.
That lily is us.
We are that lily.
Yet few realize that this is so, for they believe they need the admiration or approval of others in order to feel personal worth -- to be as outstanding as that white lily among all the greenery surrounding it. They feel they need to "be somebody" in life or to have a grandiose personal "purpose." This is because they don't recognize the splendor of their inner beingness, which makes them stand out without another's notice or admiration.
Society has formed an ironclad ideology of greatness and worth -- of what makes people special or outstanding. Society has voluntarily put on the blinders so it doesn't recognize everyone's uniqueness and magnificent individuality. As our society has become focused on celebrity-sized greatness, each person appears to have adopted a diminutive perception of the Self. This is so evident in the letters I receive from readers who believe one's "purpose in life" needs to be nothing less than a great, publicly recognized accomplishment in order to be worthwhile. They feel they must become renowned teachers, celebrated healers, or popular psychics. I can't count the number of times I've advised people to not define their goal in life as the accomplishment of one thing but rather make their entire lives an accomplishment.
A fulfilling life is guided by acts of continual unconditional goodness. It is an accomplishment that is attained on a daily and hourly basis throughout one's entire life. This way of living is the epitome of greatness and the path on which we recognize our own self-worth. Yet, on the whole, folks just don't understand the concepts of accomplishment and greatness as those attributes are associated with self-worth. Therefore, many people never enjoy the satisfaction of perceiving the beauty of basic beingness within themselves and others. Nobody thinks she's anybody unless she's Somebody -- never realizing that everyone is a Somebody...a very unique Somebody.
We all have these beautiful qualities that make us peerless in our own right. Yes, each one of us is peerless because nobody else is a precise replica of ourselves. Yet I see many who desperately try to replicate the characteristics and accomplishments of others and waste entire lifetimes striving to reach that unattainable goal. People tend to feel they're nobody unless others give them some type of acclaim or recognition. That's pure ego. That's thinking that greatness or self-worth is not achieved unless one's ego gets stroked and stroked again. That's ignoring the beauty within oneself -- that natural and inherent beauty of the spirit -- that is always there, always waiting to shine forth. To recognize this truth is to reap its benefits. We alone can tap into our greatness. No audience is required.
The Divine sees each individual as a brilliantly shining Light Within. That alone automatically makes everyone a Somebody. Now add to that Light the words and works of Unconditional Goodness and you have a truly great individual who is worth his or her weight in pure gold. Self-Worth is not contingent on peer recognition. It is not born of amassed awards, wealth, or acclaim. Self-Worth is the inner knowing that one is doing good in the world whether it's recognized in a public manner or not. Self-Worth is directly associated with one's inner Beauty of Beingness and how that powerful Beingness positively affects others. No one has to be outwardly recognized in order to feel that wonderful fullness of heart and spirit that a job was well done or that it was a good thing to give another some comfort or compassion. Every time somebody fills a task with the focus of her or his complete being or helps another person in life, that somebody is a spiritual Somebody, and the material awards or recognition for such deeds do not give the act any more spiritual credence than it already had. And they certainly shouldn't make the experience any more meaningful or fulfilling for the one who performed it.
Spiritually speaking, the wealthy and internationally famous film mogul may be no greater or have achieved no more in life than the maid who cleans his mansion or the gardener who maintains his gardens. The maid and gardener may, in fact, feel more self-worth than the mogul just by knowing they're performing their daily jobs well and conscientiously. Every job well done is an achievement, an accomplishment. Every job well done should give one a sense of worth, of being a useful and productive person -- an asset. This is because every individual is Somebody to begin with. Every individual is a shimmering Light that can shine out into the world or can be hidden from view. The difference between the two comes down to one's personal choice of how she or he perceives that glorious Inner Light. People can understand that their Inner Light of Beingness is shining all the time or they can falsely believe that their Light can only shine and become brighter if others perceive it and admire it. Like the lone mariposa lily out in the deep woods, whose beautiful Light of Beingness radiates day and night, the unique spirit of each of us exists and emanates from within, never needing any external recognition or outside admiration to validate its presence, its radiance.
It just is.
Copyright © 2002 by Mary Summer Rain
Earthway's Wisdom of Daily Living from Grandmother Earth
Tao of Nature
Earthway's Wisdom of Daily Living from Grandmother Earth
Everywhere we turn, nature is trying to bestow her gifts upon us whether we're ready to receive them or not. Here spiritual philosopher and naturalist Mary Summer Rain shows us how to open our eyes to see, how to open our ears to hear, and how to cultivate a perceptive mind and a sensitive heart so that we may gain access to the sacred knowledge of living right. We need to look beyond the awesome sunsets and beneath the splendid blanket of snow to where the true gifts lie, hidden, waiting for our minds to unwrap them and revel in their wisdom.
The jewels in Tao of Nature are invaluable gifts to readers ready to open themselves up to the wonder of Grandmother Earth. Once again, Mary Summer Rain has interwoven her observations as a naturalist with spiritual philosophy to share with the world the lessons of nature's beauty and power.