There is a dove cooing on the railing outside my window and a squirrel running down the hickory tree. I saw a hawk in the tall oak out back feeding babies. I see the pansies I planted yesterday, swaying in the chilly air. The forsythia and the dew drops are out along with the crocus and vinca flowers. Yesterday we saw a Bradford pear tree in full white bloom in the city, along with smaller pink and white flowering trees as well. The miracle of spring never ceases to amaze me.
For the longest time, when I was unsettled, I would take a walk in nature. I found the beauty calming and reassuring. I still do. At that time, it was one of the few activities I could count on that would connect me to the Greater Whole. I still find that the coming of the dawn and the passing of seasons is the Earth’s way of speaking to me about the Great Oneness. It is something that I know I don’t control, and it is something that comes repeatedly, every day and and every year without fail. It is something I can count on, completely.
Who does this? What is the origin of the cycles of the seasons, of the moon and of the passages from night to day? Is there any among us capable of creating such a canvas? I think not. This experience in life is perhaps the most important communication to us about the Presence of a Greater Whole. It is clearly larger than me, definitely more organized and ordered than me and yet it is still fully accessible to me just beyond my walls. I have to pass beyond my walls of emotion, separateness and busyness to access all that is around me.
I credit nature with kindling my faith in God before I knew anything at all about God, myself. I have blessedly always been surrounded by nature. I had parents who would take us walking in the winter when the rattlers were hibernating just for Sunday afternoon romps in the woods. We also spent hot summer nights camping out and vacations soaking in the beach’s sun, sand and sea. When I was thirteen we hiked part of the Matterhorn with my five year old brother and Dad had to carry him half way back to the village where we were staying. Being in nature equated with relaxing, being off and having an adventure.
These cues, all around, helped me have faith that there was a God. Even when my mind was trying out positions, rebuttals and researched evidence as to the non-existent God, nature was working it’s magic on me. The coming of spring year after year, the birth of dogs, birds, deer, and horses, not to mention the breathtaking beauty of tulips, snapdragons, pansies and gladiolas, all continued to hold the place for a God in my heart. My mind essentially lost out in the overwhelming evidence of miraculous change, ordered by an unknown Source. I came to know about this miracle of Source more powerfully than I could ever imagine when I gave birth to two wee sons. These experiences are hard to ignore. They call to our inner knowing even if we are not listening yet with our hearts. They keep calling to us, until we are ready to take another look at the Presence of the Greater Whole.
When I think of faith, I think of something that is hard to describe. Faith seems to be a feeling that something will be further revealed if I can simply wait, keep learning, keep listening and roll with the ambiguity. Faith is something that I feel each person defines differently. For me, faith has been a place holder. Faith has held the place in my life for the possibility of God until I could have my own knowing experiences of God, myself.
I did not find a well defined pathway to a personal knowing of God. Although, I tried a number of those supposedly “God-inspired” pathways, such as church camp, Sunday school, catechism, youth group, volunteering with Mayas in Mexico, singing in a church choir, working in a hospital, and holding office in a church. My faith still seemed undeveloped, wobbly, unclear, and certainly nothing to count on in tough times. I used to wonder how people developed such powerful faith in Divine Energy. How did that actually happen for someone? I personally did not see a connection between organized religion and knowing God. Primarily, I kept seeing all kinds of anger, judgment, prejudice, racism, sexism, injustice and war as the actions of those identifying themselves as religious or “God-fearing” persons. This did not seem promising fodder for growing faith or for knowing God.
If I had not had 18 years of chronic back pain, I might have missed knowing God. I had so much physical pain in my twenties and thirties that I simply was forced to look for something beyond the doctors and the body workers. I began to devour everything I could find on spiritual healing, metaphysical experiences and new age spiritual journeys. One day when studying with Rev. Ron Roth, he said, ” you will never know God unless you meditate. Go into Silence and begin. There is no other way.” This made a huge impression on me. I began by trying to sit by a tree everyday, in all weather to see if I could feel the power of God through that tree. In time, I began to feel something moving in me. I transferred this to my infinitely more comfortable bed and began a two year odyssey of spiritual healing and meditation which eventually resulted in both my coming to know God and the healing of my physical body.
There is no other way to know God except through the Silence. We can know about God, we can love other people’s images and teachings about God, we can even speak and teach about God. However, regardless of how much we may speak with God or teach about God, that is not the same as knowing God ourselves. God is formless and it is impossible to have a personal relationship with formless energy except in the Silence where all is formless. All else is an approximation of that knowing, it cannot be knowing unless we enter into Silence. The still small voice is always there, accessible to all and magnificent. Then faith becomes a knowing and knowing becomes the fuel of our lives.