becoming a creature

Over the last few weeks I’ve a deal of trouble with language. The normally verbose and articulate part of me has been nearly silent. Language is so central to my spirituality that this experience is rather unusual. It’s rare that I have spiritual or emotional experiences that I can’t articulate. In fact, I often don’t know what I’ve experienced until I’ve talked about it or written it down. Hence this blog.

At the moment, I have few words.

As spring has burgeoned, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden planting, feeding, mulching, and redesigning. The last two years, although I thoroughly enjoyed the garden as a work space, I rarely allowed time to appreciate its beauty. I’d walk through the garden spaces with an eye for weeds or gaps or future projects. This spring has been different. It’s been wonderful weather for spring bulbs. They opened early and the cool, wet weather has provided the perfect conditions for them to last and last. I’ve managed to keep the deer away from the tulips–the most perfect of all flowers. And I planted in such abundance that there are plenty of them for cutting. This spring the garden has been indoors as well as out.

The garden has opened itself to me in new way, and in so doing, it has opened in me spaces I was hardly aware of. The beauty of tulips and daffodils has always moved me, but now I find the cut-leaf foliage of the astilbe and the fuzzy lambs’ ears encouraging me to gentleness and ease. My optimism, hope, and longing for stability and solidity are leading me to plant more trees. And despite myself, and despite the tulips, I’m drawn more and more to form and leaf than to flower. It’s strange how we change.

Then, too, the woods and the river have called to me. I’ve always loved the river, but it has a new power over me these days. It is ancient and strong, and so comforting for that. I’ve taken to walking down to the river with binoculars around my neck so that I can pay attention to the birds on my way. I’m listening more closely, watching more attentively.

I found a cedar tree near the river, young but strong, with a bench to one side of it. At first it seemed to me a good place to rest in the cool shadows of the maples and oaks, the river glinting through the trees. But as I sat, I was drawn more and more to that young cedar. I stood up and touched the smooth and flaky surface of its trunk. My two hands could wrap themselves around its girth. And yet, it was incredibly solid for its youth. I rested my forehead against it for a few minutes, breathing in its faint spice and felt a kinship with it and with all the trees and garden plants and birds, with the river and the gentle hills in our pasture.

A wise friend told me that I’m becoming a creature. I knew immediately what she meant. I am awakening to the knowledge that I am not separate from the natural world but a part of it. This awakening, I realize, is also an invitation into a truer contemplation. Words have little meaning with a cedar tree. All I can do is sit, look, smell, and touch. All I can do is be and allow it to be. All I can do is enter into a wordless fellowship, to allow myself to become a creature, and in so doing to allow myself to be recreated. That seems appropriate for spring.

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4 Replies to “becoming a creature”

  1. Brother Aidan,I have read all of your blogs since our last communication by email, and have found all of them to be superb; but this present email touched me in a special way. To me, it brought to mind a definition of consciousness that I’ve found broadly discussed recently. It asserts that many of us relate consciousness to “self awareness,” a limiting concept; obviously newborns are conscious although not yet self aware. A broader definition of consciousness embraces the ability of all living creatures to respond meaningfully to external stimuli–to the environment. Plant an acorn and it will make you an oak tree! Perhaps the ultimate consciousness, God Consciousness, has extended true consciousness to all living creations, plants and animals, great and small. Perhaps!Lon


    1. Lon, I think you’re absolutely right. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how plants evolve, communicate, share resources, care for one another, etc. Michael Pollan, for instance, argues that (of course!) we humans see evolution in terms of mental functioning. It’s not that plants are necessarily a “lower” form of life. It’s that their evolution is measured in other ways. There’s certainly a lot we don’t know!


  2. I believe you are witnessing your own growth in God, an old soul making itself known to you yourself. Thank you for sharing that lovely experience.


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