Over the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to practice being more “present” during my walks. In an effort to do that, I’ve been listening to books by Tinh Nhat Hanh to learn. Though he has so much wisdom and many lessons, the one I have held tightest to, is the power of “walking meditation.” The idea is to be with your walk. Connect to nature, and become keenly aware of the gifts nature freely offers. I’m guilty of walking mindlessly, paying little if any attention to what’s around me. I pay little attention because I am consumed with the mundane, the fleeting, the unimportant. However, this changed last week when I took what I learned and applied it to my walk. I committed to be with my walk.
While paying attention to my surroundings, I was struck by a pile of leaves. Funny thing is, in Illinois, in October, this is not unusual. But this particular grouping of leaves caught my attention. I stared at it for quite awhile, long enough that I decided to take a photo. (Take a picture, it’ll last longer!) What was revealed to me through my time staring at this grouping of leaves, and then the photo, is that nature often serves as a metaphor for life. Here’s what the leaves taught me.
For everything there is a season. Everything. Whether we’re ready for it or not. We cannot argue, change, or prevent nature doing what it does.
Things come and go. Nature is constantly changing, as is life. We cannot control nature, we cannot control life. I cannot control the amount of leaves, or how fast they fall, or which ones fall, but I can control recognition of them, appreciate them, be in awe of their beauty. Natures artwork. Wow.
The smattering leaves of different shapes, sizes, and colors, reminded me that just like people, there is beauty in variety. The leaves symbolize our vast differences, no two the same, yet we are all connected. They all fell from the same tree, yet they are all different. We are all connected, by nature, by God, by energy, or the cosmos. We are ALL connected despite how different we appear.
That thinking begged the question, if we are truly all connected, how can disagreements turn to hate? Why have we stopped listening? And why are we quick to jump to conclusions when someone believes something I don’t?
To think that a simple shift in mindset during my walk allowed me to connect more closely with nature, and myself. I need to up my own game. I need to listen more gently, even if I disagree. I need to be more accepting of differing opinions. Differences are not bad, they are necessary.
Nature, a surprising, powerful teacher. I can’t wait to go back to class.
Until next time, stay well and stay hopeful,