Faith of sands, seeds, and seas

It was refreshing to see a nice sunset last night, on the beach of the Pacific Ocean, no less. As the sun went down, it seemed to melt into a pool of orange and yellow brilliance, casting soft dusty pink colors on the far side of the beach. These colors all deepen as the sun slowly sets.

The cold deepens too, the sand becomes uncomfortably cool to my feet, and I rolled down my sleeves and tuck my ears into my bandana. Couples snuggle tight together. I like the feeling of sand under my feet. It’s one of the delights of a stroll down the beach. Even when it gets cold, I linger.

I suppose there are many reasons why I appreciate nature. Beauty, yes, but it’s also an ego-free zone. It is we human beings who seem inflicted with a heightened sense of self-consciousness that we can’t control, given over as we are to things like fear, greed, hate, and pride. We pour concrete, build, construct cities and civilizations, yet their structures so often are founded on those core vices of the ego, concretized, as it were, in them.

It’s sometimes just rock solid sadness that I feel when I see the state of the world. After our own 9/11 attacks, we took the violent offensive. A Christian nation, so we say, we ignored the basic wisdom teaching of Jesus and so many others: those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Are we surprised that violence begets more violence?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17

I try to take lessons away from nature, to keep my feet firmly planted in the ground. One of the great failures of Western civilization is that we do not really listen to nature. Nature has no voice, no soul, no spirit, and no being. It is a mere object for entertainment or objectification. It is our raw materials. As I understand it, it took a significant shift in perception to get us here. Indigenous cultures tend to have very firm convictions in the sacred nature of the world as a whole, human and non-human.

The point of this post is not so simple as to say that nature can save us. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. There is wisdom from many sources to guide us. But to listen, merely to listen. Of all the problems of our ego, it is perhaps our inability to listen that is most monstrous.

I suppose I remain hopeful on principle. Or perhaps that’s another lesson from nature. One might have faith to move mountains, or one might have faith like a glacier, which moves slowly, carving valleys and leaving mountains in their wake.

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

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Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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