Our Own Divine Nature

Every time we start thinking we're the center of the universe, the universe turns around and says with a slightly distracted air, "I'm sorry. What'd you say your name was again?"

         Margaret Maron, Bootleggers's Daughter

To surrender to life "as is" can miraculously transform situations. It is in this surrender that we are able to receive. The Universe gives us the tools to fulfill our destinies when we let things be.

When is the right time to surrender? In what situations? Every day, every moment, and every situation is an opportunity for surrender. We surrender to a force bigger than we are when we are born and again when we die. Between life and death we get lost because we forget to surrender.

If something should be changed and you have the power to change it, go ahead. But learn to recognize the situations that cannot be changed. They are the times when we feel as if we are bailing against the tide, when we struggle and are afraid. These are the times when we must accept and surrender, or our struggle consumes us.

If you don't feel at peace, it's time to surrender.

If life doesn't flow, it's time to surrender.

If you want to change what cannot be changed, it's time to surrender.

Letting things be, instead of constantly struggling to make them happen, is a wonderful gift we give to ourselves. If we look back on life, we will see that some of our best moments and greatest opportunities did not come out of struggle. They seem like lucky coincidences, as if they occurred because we were in the right place at the right time. That is how surrender works, and this is how life works: subtly.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, Life Lessons - ©2000, Scribner, New York


Nature often holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives.

         Mary Ann Brussat, Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life

While sitting on my porch the other day, I became increasingly awestruck by the beauty and magnificence of nature. The masses of flowers in my window boxes and garden seemed almost unreal in their loveliness and perfection. Butterflies and hummingbirds punctuated the scene, which boasted a verdant backdrop of various trees, grasses, and shrubs. Thinking myself in heaven, or at least paradise, I recalled Henry David Thoreau's quote, "Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity, so that not a snowflake [or flower] escapes its fashioning hand."

Yet many of us see nature as a means to an end. Because of this perception, we view nature merely as a place to relax, or vacation in, a haven from the stresses of the world, or toward the resources of the baseball or football field. We may play here, picnic here, walk through forests, swim in lakes or oceans, climb mountains, yet never notice the divinity that Thoreau believed existed within each natural setting.

In both actual and literary life, we hear or read stories about those rare individuals who, while enjoying nature, experienced enlightenment, or oneness with God. The proverbial and literal image of the mountaintop has inspired many a seeker to great depths of spiritual feeling. And while enlightenment may occur in any locale, be it urban, suburban, or rural, nature seems to be the environment of choice for many spiritual seekers. For although it is possible, most of us cannot imagine enlightenment striking us at the grocery store - or on a subway or bus. And while you may think the divine in nature merely a romantic notion, we who have been there know that its reputation for transformation is more than just an illusion.

Unfortunately, throughout most of our lives, we move too fast and see too little to be able to appreciate nature's true magnificence. We "power walk" instead of sauntering through the woods, concentrating more on our breathing and stride, than on the mystery and majesty around us. We splash and thrash through nature's waters, unaware of the vastness and depth within each glistening drop. Programmed to hurry, worry, and distract ourselves, we miss the divinity that Thoreau spoke of when he said, "heaven is under our feet, as well as over our heads."

Thoreau believed the exploration of nature to be as important as the exploration of our self. For within it, we find ourselves, and within ourselves, we find nature. For example, the mystery and magic of the seasons sheds light upon our own lives, which mirror the cycles of nature with its times of feast and famine, harmony and chaos, and life and death. When the trees lose their leaves in the fall, I become aware of the importance of discarding the dead and useless within our own lives to make way for the new. Death and rebirth, a recurrent cycle throughout all of existence, plays out beautifully in nature.

While walking in winter, I am reminded of our own barren times, when it seems that nothing is happening, and all is lost. Soon afterward, in nature as in life, a new phase or cycle begins, complete with choices and challenges, joy and sadness, and tragedy and triumph.

Nature can also help us learn to value ourselves, even with all of our faults and weaknesses. When I see trees with broken branches and fungi growing on them, I am struck by the perfection within the imperfection. "Ah" I muse, "if we could only be like the trees, who, without self-consciousness, stand naked before creation, in spite of surface flaws." Struck by nature's majesty and beauty, I reflect upon the divinity within each of us, most of which, unlike the trees, hides behind a surface facade of superficiality and manufactured perfection.

Whenever I feel frustrated because of an illness or disability, I observe nature and its creatures, who, like all living things, suffer from countless physical maladies, from root rot to cancerous growths. Rather than viewing sickness and disease as unnatural and freakish occurrences, I now see them as part of nature, which helps alleviate some of the fear and guilt associated with many illnesses.

Nature also teaches us about the destructive side of life. Dangers of all kinds exist within her many expressions and forms. As a resident of New Jersey, I am constantly reminded of this destructive aspect by the threat of Lyme's disease in our area. I often resent that my walks through the woods are diminished by this ceaseless presence, which, at its worst, can cripple one for life.

Nature can also help us heal, by providing solace for our hurts and pains. Thoreau believed we are never alone in nature, which inspired him to seek solitude within her companionable and compassionate arms. Nature also provides the perfect setting for our spiritual self to flourish. In any number of natural paradises, this aspect can be enhanced and revitalized by simply immersing ourselves in the divine presence.

Whether we simply need to feed our spirit or discover a spiritual truth, the forests, mountains, lakes and seas of the world can lead us toward a deeper, richer and more fulfilling life. For nature is more than just "the great outdoors;" it can help us open the innermost door to the mystery of the self and the Universe.

Marianne Parady, MA

About the Author
Marianne Parady, Contributing Author

Marianne is the author of 7 Secrets for Successful Living and the upcoming book Living Deliberately. Along with writing a self-help column for the Hunterdon Observer, she writes for self-help/spiritual publications. Her self-help email course entitled Living Deliberately ~ Discovering and Embracing your Essential Life is inspired by the wisdom of Henry David Thoreau. This course is offered through Self-Healing Expressions. Students discover and embrace their essential life by learning to live deliberately. Marianne is also an experienced lecturer and workshop facilitator who has worked with colleges, corporations and non-profit organizations.

My thanks to June Sokya Cook of Self-Healing Expressions for suggesting this article. Self-Healing Expressions provides free and nominally priced self-paced email courses on personal growth and holistic topics. Unlike sites that email daily messages or weekly newsletters, their delivery system with a unique "scheduler" allows students to set their own pace by choosing the day and interval of lesson delivery. Site also features guided imagery and healing prayers. For more information, visit www.selfhealingexpressions.com.


email: Michael@N-Spire.com

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