Unity with Nature

This is the PYM committee I most think I ought to be on but never really make time for. To compare and contrast, I don’t think I ought to be on the children’s religious education committee at my Meeting, but I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas about it anyway. I have a clear leading to do children’s religious education even if I keep trying to get out of it. Apparently, I can’t not do it. On the other hand, my intellect and my mystical experiences lead me to Unity with Nature, but I have no idea what I’d do if I was on it. I have no energy, no ideas, no enthusiasm for this work. Maybe it’s a latent or potential leading, but for now God needs me to raise a few Quakers before I get around to saving the earth? I dunno.

I do know that I never wanted to be an environmentalist. I grew up in a logging town with a fairly polarized community. Frankly, I didn’t want to be or marry a redneck logger or a tree-hugging ecofreak. I just wanted out of town, or out of the forest to be more exact. But over the last twenty years, I have come to appreciate my upbringing, my parents’ commitment to raising intelligent, responsible girls, and the true freedom and opportunities that small town life afforded me.

However, once I was away from the forest for a few years, God started calling me. Not back to the forest per se, but it is a fact that my most profound mystical experience happened in a mountain forest and gave me to understand that I am as miniscule as a mountain in God’s creation, and as immensely important as a blade of grass. There’s a bit more to it, but I won’t tell the whole story now. The problem is that I was so struck by the fact that God was talking to me that it took me ten years to even pay attention to what God was telling me. It took me a year and a half to find Quaker meeting, and then eight years of going to Quaker meetings before I got over the shock and was able to focus on the message. And then I realized that the message, in a nutshell, was unity with nature.

So what does this really have to do with PYM? I may not serve on the committee, but I try to go to some of their activities. I’ll just say now that I went to one session of the group on mystical experiences in nature and it felt flat to me. I didn’t go to the further meetings of the group, partly because the next one was too late in the evening, but partly because I left the first one feeling more irritated than inspired. Why is it that I am so disdainful of other people’s mystical experiences? I don’t know for sure, but it just might relate back to my disdain for “environmentalists” and my small-town, small-minded suspicion of anything so flaky as people thinking they’re mystics.

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Blogger Amanda said...

This is so irrelevant, but whenI read your post, I thought of one of my favourite lines of poetry ever, from Sylvia Plath's The Moon and the Yew Tree:

"The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God"

When I first read it, I flipped the metaphor around a few times and spent a lot of time imagining what it would mean to be a blade of grass unloading my grief onto God's feet. And the idea of dew as grief, or grief as dew...and all of the attributes and curled-up metaphors therein...ooh.

Anyway, thanks for poking that out of my brain, and I promise I'm not one of those Plath fans. I just find that one poem, and that one line, transfixing.

8/16/2005 11:49 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Gosh, Amanda, I never heard that before, but I love it. Transfixing, that's a good word for it!

Occasionally I think I should have read more Plath, but I haven't. Did you get it in school or were you just more eddicated than me as a kid? Clearly I spent too much time on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie. And then too much Spanish lit and not enough English in college.

8/16/2005 11:17 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I was homeschooled, and spent most of my childhood reading, but I didn't discover Plath until I was 18, which I think is the perfect time. What I find a little sad about her is that most people stop at the "Daddy" poem, which is not representative. The poems in Ariel, the last book before she took her life, span a huge range of emotions. (most of them varying shades of tragic) I find them troublesome and only read them rarely. They are beautiful, but in the way that a tornado or hurricaine is beautiful; all the time you're watching it you know that it's real lives and real people and real homes that will be destroyed when it lands...

I've always been too much English lit. I can't do long division but I can write any number of long essays...

8/25/2005 10:09 AM  

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