Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Language of Nature

The March/April 2008 edition of 'Resurgence' magazine has an interesting article about the language of nature by Liz Hosken (
... Our fragmented thinking, which denies the primacy of the earth as the source of all life, is now our greatest impediment in meeting the challenge of the moment... ... The great challenge that climate change presents the Western industrial mind is to learn the language of the earth... ...reconnect with the natural world, her cycles, abundance and intelligence... ... the Earth is understood as the primary source of nourishment and meaning... ... we need to reconnect with the poetic language of the imagination through which we can feel for those other than ourselves and our own species...

In 'Animate Earth' Stephan Harding writes:
...the human organism is inherently predisposed to seeing nature as alive and full of soul, and that we repress this fundamental mode of perception at the expense of our own health, and that of the natural world.

He also quotes Thomas Berry as saying "Nature... is a communion of subjects rather than a collection of objects".

A couple of weeks ago I put some canes up against a fence by the summerhouse for the bindweed to grow up. To see this plant twist around the cane at almost a foot a day was amazing. The vigor and compulsion that this plant has to grow is amazing. I encourage it to grow up the garden fence as I love its white trumpet like flowers and its heart shaped leaves. It produces a rapid wall of green. In the time it has taken the bindweed to grow 6ft, my carrots have grown about 1cm!

A couple of days ago I was walking near work and looked at the areas of trees and shrubs growing in and around the industrial estate - taking hold and colonizing the small unwanted patches of land between roads, car parks and warehouses.

Nature takes hold. It has its own agenda - to grow, to spread out, to reproduce, to seed, to expand its own kind. Does each individual plant have its own will to live, or is there some inherent 'consciousness' that pervades the whole of the plant world. There is obviously a network of interrelationships between plants (and others) of the same and different species as can be seen in any ' wild' ecosystem when nature has freedom to establish herself. Does this happen purely by chance, or by a process of evolution?

When I stand in a patch of woodland, in the garden, in an orchard full of blossom or a field of corn waving in a breeze and sense a deep silent movement of life around me, am I just anthropomorphosising what I see - projecting a wishful sense of joy of my own life and emotions onto the life around me? Does nature have a language that it uses to talk amongst itself and am I tapping into a whisper of that language caught by my soul? Many people claim to be able communicate with nature though a variety of means (spirits, devas, gods etc) but that path isn't for me. Perhaps it is intuition that catches my psyche. The language that Nature uses, if it has one may be one we will never actually be able to communicate with. But, if we are evolved from similar cells way, way back in the past perhaps we have a vestigial gene somewhere that calls to us in rare moments. But perhaps we don't have to look that far back when we realise that it was only around 200 years ago that our whole world was still predominantly rural, agrarian and nature-centric.

Living in a town and having to commute by car to work in an office all day makes trying to tap into the language of nature a challenge. It takes time for me to try and tune it. Even when I am out for a walk or a bike ride and I only have a few hours seems almost too little time to sense the rhythm of nature around me. I need to slow down and enter the pace of nature - to begin to tune into her language. I only feel I can do so in the way that means something to me. Sometime you get special moments when nature seems to reach out to you and realy inspire you. This is when I feel I have my awareness of the Divine Spirit. Ooo! Er.. soooo... as those last few words seemed to come from no-where.... perhaps it is... the Holy Spirit that.... for me... acts like a translation service between nature and myself. It is a bridge between me and my belonging in nature. That might need a bit of thinking about.....! So is God actually Nature. Is God the essense, the life force, the actual Language of Nature.... Hmmm.... this is too difficult to think about now...

Spring Blessings.

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