Holy Nature – finding the wonder in the “ordinary.”
The Celts never doubted it, and surely few peoples ever did. They saw it in every landscape, on the Green Isle. We see it in snow-covered prairies, bald stone mountains, or green bogs that go on forever to the gaze. There is a sense of majesty that, at the same time, appears to us as infinitely Other, and yet quietly draws us. We somehow, intimately, take part in the whole of it. “Holy” means different, special, set-apart. There is enough of that “other-ness” that we can say that all of Nature is truly “Holy Nature.”
All of Nature is, after all, Creation, even the smallest creation. Any snapshot or trinket speaks of a personhood, behind – or, within it. We can see as the artist sees, hear as the musician hears, as the Universe sings of a beauty beyond even the colors and lights before us.
Finding the wonder
I have stood atop a mountain, two miles high, and felt the urge to throw myself as a soaring bird into the beauty of the peaks below. The encompassing swell of the sea has called me with the soft, unyielding power of its waves. The green sod of my ancestral Isle has called to me, “here you will rest.” None of this is unusual. Haven’t you felt the same, even gazing at the transcendent colors of an evening’s sunset?
In “another life” I worked as a photographer. I made my money on smaller things. I recorded the joy of a wedding, the love of a family reunion, or the tragedy of a fire or a tornado’s damage. No film, no matter how fine, could hold what was before me. No lens, no matter how perfectly polished, could ever do more than say, “it was there,” or, “it happened.” The only way to experience such things is to be in them.
Sharing the wonder.
In the same way, what little I have experienced, what shards I know, of the Tao’s mysteries can only be known first-hand. The best photograph, the most detailed painting, tell us first of all not of the thing pictured but the artist’s skill at capturing the image. Even so, I must seek to know all I can of this wonder, share what little I can. Then I disappear. So, the Wonder, and not this wanderer, will endure.
Zhuang Tse wrote that the sages experience much of the Tao of Heaven. They listen with their ears, and with their spirits. They see the out-working of it through all of Nature. Yet, he says, they can’t pass on their experience, but only, “the dry bones of their writing.” In The Tao of Prayer I’ve gathered some essential fragments that we may see the map they have left us. The Tao, of course, is the Way found in all traditions, especially the most ancient. This book helps us to see our own place along that Way, and how to best travel it for our own spiritual perfection bringing our own lives to completion.