Back to Nature (Published on - June 21, 2007)
Sometimes life's small things give us hope
Photo by Karen Mitchell Tremmel
Grandmother June Painting
Sometimes it is the smallest things in life that give us hope.

In a world of chaos, frustration, pressures, harshness and confusion humankind will seek solace in whatever manner that may be found. It is how we seek this solitude (this sacred space that is within us) that makes so much difference in our lives.

Based on the choices we make, our paths lead us to new discoveries and awareness. Based on the way we treat ourselves, others, the wild creatures on our planet and the earth beneath our feet, is how we see ourselves and is how we are seen by others.

Some time ago while speaking to my Cherokee Grandmother she commented that she felt a sadness within me and wanted to know what it was that was bothering me so deeply. I explained that it wasn’t necessarily a sadness for myself individually but a sadness for others that seemed so bitter, full of hatred, malice and with lack of respect for others and our planet.

She quietly sat for a minute while holding my hand. I felt her warmth surround me. I felt her love fall around my shoulders. We sat speaking not a word. She asked me after a while, “Do you feel my love for you?” I smiled. This question didn’t require an answer.

She said, “People choose how they want to surround themselves.  Some people live on chaos and drama. Some choose to look at the world through the lenses of hatred. It is our choice how we see our worlds and live in them. I choose to live in beauty. I choose to love and surround my children with that love. It is my choice. No matter how bad things get, choose to be surrounded by love and beauty.” She reminded me of an old Indian saying, “We are known by the footsteps we leave behind.”

In my life it has not always been easy to find the beauty in darkness. It is easy to look at a sunset and be amazed at the awesome pinks and tangerines, the lavender shadows, the melting waters. Does the color of green before the thunderstorm fill your senses with the memories of damp earth beneath your feet?

And when a tree falls in a forest can you imagine that this is not the end?  What home will she provide? Who will spawn in her fertile limbs. She is a mother in the forest. She is not gone but has changed from one source of beauty to another. We all change like this.

Recently I was walking in the forest with my love. The scene lacked show. The Spanish moss hung windless, the leaf buds had yet to mature. The day was overcast stealing the shadows but something in this quiet gave us peace. We came to a clearing where landscape colors changed, appearing in soft grays and greens.

We knelt to discover Deer Moss (Cladoniaceae), so soft, so small, so elegant, so beautiful. Here was its place. Here is where it called home, in the middle of a forest that looked like any other forest. Like an alien, out of place, but it needed this forest to exist.

It was when I thought of this, I remembered my Grandmother’s words. Everything is related. One can not exist without the other. We can’t appreciate beauty without also getting a glimpse of the world through the eyes of others. Then it is our choice how we go from there.

We could walk on the moss with abandon or carefully side step these beauties, lay near them and look at them from the eyes of a stranger.  Beauty is surrounding us. Love is surrounding us. We have a choice to reach out and touch beauty or rather wish harm.  It is those smallest things in life, those little miracles that remind us of the larger decisions we make.  Like the soft, gray deer moss, we are all related.

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