Back to Nature (Published on - Feb. 15, 2007)
Nature’s lessons on acceptance and patience
Photo by Rick Tremmel
Hold on to the past and smile for the future.
Build me a fire of hope and peace. Take a moment, close your eyes.

I can see a storm gathering at the entrance to the bay, rolling together gray swirls underneath a lime-gray sky. Sea birds race each other for shelter.

The bay waters spread out like smooth, silver sheets of mercury unaware of the distance turmoil. A lizard sunning itself beside me takes no notice of the intensifying updrafts. The palm leaves rise and fall in an uneven breeze song. Nostrils spread open allowing in the welcomed fresh, moist air. Take a deep breath. Hold it in. Clouds tumble slowly approaching the shore. Ah, the rains … cool my skin, make rain ringlets with my hair, tastes clean, fresh upon my lips becoming a part of me. Droplets fall from my fingertips returning to the sands, me a part of the earth.

Under a full moon, I spoke to an Elder and expressed how I would miss her if she was not making this walk on this earth beside me. She responded.

“Doesn’t really matter, dear one, I will still be with you in spirit, arms around you. Hold your loved ones so that their essence, their fingertips are remembered in detail as when they touched your face. Hold on to the past and smile for the future. Is all one, baby girl.”

Later that week another friend shared with me she had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I asked of her, “What can I do?” I’m the kind of person that feels there is a solution for everything and if I try hard enough I can hold back the storms, believing that somehow together we can find a reason, an answer, a cure. My friend reached out gently touching my hand and said, “Nothing.” She saw the fixer’s reaction. She went on, “We will do the same thing as if I was not ill. We will take it one day at a time. We will love each other one day at a time. No matter what we do we can only fight one flame at a time.”

I knew she was right. Nature teaches us this. All those clichés for example: Don’t paddle upstream, don’t go against the tide … you know … it is that rebellious characteristic some of us have. Let me at it, I can make it right, but sometimes trying to make it right makes it worse. Sometimes “hands off” lets nature take its course. I give in, I submit that I can’t solve everything. We can’t put a halt to impending storms, but we can enjoy the rains. The winds will prevail. Nature teaches us lessons of patience and acceptance.

Subhuti, how does a person first feel a need to save beings? He becomes aware of that kind of wise insight which shows him beings as on their way to destroying themselves. Great compassion then takes hold of him. He surveys the world, and what he sees fills him with agitation. So, such a person radiates great friendliness and compassion over all these beings and gives his attention to them, thinking, “I would like to save these beings, I would like to release them from all their sufferings.” But he does not make this desire into an attachment, for even he never turns his back on full enlightenment.– Prajnaparamita

Like prayers and fires, like sweats and songs sang, like dew turns to fog, like rains become rivers, like smoke carried to the clouds, like the stars in your eyes reflecting moon beams, like dreams and reality, like this one girl standing here like a thousand before her sharing the same footsteps, same raindrops, same sand, same river, same moon, same stars shining, same beams of eternity through someone else’s eyes 10,000 years ago, take the storm clouds into your heart, turn them around, let them open your windows, see into the future, see into the past, hold the hands of both future and past.

Build me a fire of hope and peace. Lift the damp earth in cupped hands and breathe in the scent of life’s blood. Actions, footprints, thrown stone ripples, we are integral with all nature, all winds, all rains, all storms. “Is all one … ” Take a joyful moment, cherish the past and smile for the future … back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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