We received a suggestion for a blog post topic, “gratitude to Mother Nature”. My first response to being grateful to Mother Nature after the past couple of years of catastrophic weather around the globe and this winter in the northeast was not a kind one! My conversation with Mother Nature on first impulse, if I could have one, would start with “What- is- up- with -you? You’re like PMS on steroids… unpredictable, dangerous and thoroughly out of control at the most importune times! (Are there opportune times for out of control behavior?) Anyway my first reaction was not a nice one.
Then it occurred to me that one of the things I most admire is authenticity….honest expression of who one is, what one is feeling at any given moment…a realization of the complexity of the layers and levels we all live with and on. Isn’t Mother Nature an excellent model of just being herself with all of her tremendous power, destructive capacity, beauty, healing, and balance? Natural cycles of pure expression with no seeming concern for how she might be perceived, of whether you like her or not, or if she is being socially acceptable…that’s our girl! So many messages to decode from this force that moves so enigmatically through the universe.
We all have our complaints about winter and my voice is sometimes the loudest! However, the question has occurred to me, “Would we feel such gratitude and joy at the arrival of spring if we had not had the long dark nights, cold days, various& sundry challenging weather patterns to contend with”?
It has been said that it is in the opposites of life that we learn to experience and know each fully: light-dark, sadness-joy, grief-happiness, longing-fullness. We believe that we prefer only the positive sides of these experiences, but would we really be able to feel them all as deeply if we had not been touched by each?
It may seem an academic question or maybe even a rationalization for being stuck with these most human of experiences! But nevertheless, it does seem worth wondering whether there is something to be learned here.
Do contrasts help us to pay attention, feel alive, and be more deeply grateful for the times when we are on the up side of the ride of life?
Author Jon Kabat Zin has stated in his classic work on stress that being a human being means to embrace the full catastrophe, like Zorba the Greek embracing all the experiences of life! But how can we do this without feeling beat up by those experiences?
It is in our perception and response that both the problems and solutions lay.
Perhaps nature shows us how to be more accepting of the ever present changes and movement of our lives. This of course requires us to develop skills that help us let go and feel that we are not fighting life. Then we can enjoy the freedom in direct experience of life and be able to live more consciously, openly, and fluidly.
Pain, whether of a physical or psychological nature is intensified when we resist. We may not think we are resisting if we are centered in our minds but a quick check with our feelings and bodies usually tells a different story. So, truly learning how to ‘go with the flow’ can help release the pain of stress, loss and change. It generally requires the development of consciousness, new skills releasing automatic or destructive reactions to change and stress. Nature consistently shows her phenomenal capacities for restoring balance and equilibrium after chaos and destruction and so can we!
Seasons do not change abruptly. Mother Nature eases us from one time to another gradually….sometimes not…but more often we weave back and forth between seasons transitioning until finally there is a full emergence into a new present. We can honor this process in ourselves growing in a capacity of patience, tolerance and compassion.
The energy of Spring supports clearing out the clutter in our lives, minds and hearts. This is a good time to think about what ideas and changes have been gestating within you during this winter? Just as we may want to clear out our closets, garages and basements in the spring, our inner selves call for a clearing of the cobwebs, old programming and patterns. What is wanting to be released from your life? Where are you unconsciously holding on to what no longer fits or suits you? What new energies are waiting to be embraced and expressed? What new freedom is waiting to be discovered?
And so for the moment I have come to some peace with Mother Nature, having kinder thoughts about her and gratitude for the teaching of power, wisdom and authenticity.