A spiritual connection can come so easily in nature. At least it does when I am open and trusting, like a child, to the mystery. That’s when I discover nature gifts me with answers to my inner questions.
Recently, it happened my last night in Paria Canyon – my last night sleeping under the Milky Way. I had left the cover of my tent off so I could gaze up at the nearly full moon and the preponderance of stars filling the heavens. Feeling comforted and secure, I asked the moon about a concern I had on my heart – a concern about suffering.
And I fell asleep with Sister Moon shining into my tent.
During the night, she gave me a powerful insight through my dreams. I scribbled it all down in my journal, and maybe I will write about it more in depth later on.
But journaling about that experience reminded me of another conversation I’d had with the moon.
Late March 2014. I had just returned from my first time volunteering in El Paso. The two months I’d spent there had affected me in ways I hadn’t expected. I felt changed somehow.
Already, I was transitioning from my life in rural Virginia.
But I didn’t know that then.
I’d like to share that 2014 journal entry. Because it expresses the uncertainty I felt about the way forward. It reveals how Love upheld me in my loneliness. And it affirms the benefit of listening inwardly.
God did speak to me in the silence of my heart. And I’ve learned how to listen.
March 2014: Last night I had a conversation with the moon.
It’s easy to do, where I’m living now, from my log home in the woods. Standing in my great room, its huge A-frame windows opening to the trees and sky, I noticed the misty white light pouring in, casting itself in great gulps across my country carpet with its images of bears and moose and acorns.
Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the expansive sky filled with stars tried to soothe and remind me that I am not alone.
It feels so very different from my sojourn in El Paso – this place in the woods. Here it’s absolutely still.
When I pause and listen, I hear complete silence. Only the occasional light tinkling of my wind chimes dangling from my porch as a breeze catches them. A gentle interjection. No freight trains blaring their horns as they cross intersections. The daily trains passing through El Paso are a distant memory now. The open, expansive sky hovering above millions of twinkling yellow lights dancing across two border cities – it too has faded. Replaced by a sheath of woods, concealing all neighbors.
So, I asked the moon – my most attentive neighbor – what am I doing back here? In the silence and solitude. Is it to regain my balance? Is it to truly learn what patience and trust mean?
I tend to believe this prayer that I have been saying regularly: “I am exactly where I am meant to be.” I whispered it to myself in the moonlight. And Sister Moon, she seemed to nod in agreement, reassuring me in the silence.
In the morning, I am greeted by a plump robin perched on a branch as I take my daily morning walk down my long gravel driveway. In the midst of the waning winter cold and these bare branches, I recognize the nourishment that’s been given this creature. She’s obviously been fed well and is quite healthy as she awaits spring’s return. Spirit has given me a gift this morning through this robin – an awareness of God’s providential care.
I begin to notice a few other signs of life.
The bird’s nest in the rafters on my porch.
The small stream of water that runs down the hillside of my property.
But no other human voice. No other sound to match the sighing of my breath as the day passes as it has like so many before it: soundlessly.
Is this how You are caring for me? Through the lonely, silent beauty of nature? What am I to make of this? Whom can I talk to, besides the sky and the earth and the moon? I am seeking answers, and they come so slowly, so subtly, through these sources. Maybe that is the point. Maybe the answer I seek will come through the uncertainty in waiting. Maybe this is how You have been asking me to listen all along – in the solitude of nature, in the silence of my own heart.
“You will hear my voice in the silence”