An Age of Forgetting
“We live in what we might call an age of forgetting. We have forgotten who we are in relation to everything else: the creatures, the plants, the mountains, the forests, the oceans, one another, and even ourselves… One of the fruits of contemplative practice is the remembrance of our wholeness; we are able to see past the divisions we create with our egos and minds and to rediscover the truth that we are all of one creation.“Christine Valtners Paintner
This quote got me to thinking how the Camino de Santiago does a good job of reconnecting us to what we have forgotten, “who we are in relation to everything…” That is what can happen to us when we spend an extended time outside in the mountains, forests and the flat open spaces of Spain. Time spent outdoors in the natural landscapes has a way of bringing one back into connection with nature. We do live in a time when where it is far to easy to forget this connection, especially when we spend so much time indoors.
I love it when I am in outdoors and I come across animals in the wild. On the first day of our walk, in the high mountain meadows of the Pyrenees mountains, we came across free-ranging pigs, horses and sheep. Although, I was huffing and puffing as I ascended over the mountain pass, the sight of these free ranging animals slowed me to a stop and I gazed in wonder at something new I had not seen before. What is it that captures our attention when we pass by these creatures roaming the high meadows of the Pyrenees mountains?
Actress Jane Fonda, was asked once why she became a person of faith. She replied:
“I could sense a reverence humming in me”
I like that thought. Maybe all of creation contains a reverent humming within and that is why I feel so connected to the wildlife I come across in nature? I have discovered that the more I am able to still my mind and be present to the moment, the more in tune I am with the “humming within” myself as well as with all of creation. Yet, I have to admit, I am not able to sustain this for long before my head begins to fill with racing thoughts and distractions. So, maybe this is what Christine Valters Paintner meant when she said we are living in a time “we might call the age of forgetting”?
So, what do we do to keep from forgetting? Maybe it is simple, we just need to remember it is enough to simply slow down and be present and observant to all the “humming” going on around us as we pass through the many different landscapes. It is enough, maybe, to just sit and listen to the babbling of a mountain stream, or to be touched by the play of the light and shadows changing on the ripples of a mountain lake. I suspect this the medicine we need to find our “wholeness”.
“We are saved in the end by the things that ignore us.”Andrew Harvey
How can what we ignore save us in the end? Well, that beautiful mountain stream continues lunging down the rocks and into the valley below long after I am gone. The sheep, pig and horses that are free ranging across the meadows of the Pyrenees will continue to find rest and nourishment apart from any consideration of my having passed that way.
Becoming present to a reality entirely separate from own world of turmoil strangely seems to set us free. In the very act of ignoring us, the landscape is inviting us out of our frantic quest for self-fulfillment.
I have a great fondness for John Muir. He lived life with such a beautiful understanding of our connection to all creation. This quote was from his time when he was working and living in Yosemite valley.
“I drifted from rock to rock, from stream to stream, from grove to grove…. When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make it acquaintance and hear what it had to tell…. I asked the boulders I met, where they came and wither they were going.”
I hope you find “a minute or a day” to find a connection with the “humming” that is going on all around you in nature.
Photograph of the Month
Here is a video that captures the slow moving late evening light and shadow on the snow covered peaks on Hurricane Ridge. I was mesmerized by how fast the shadows on the mountain peaks we moving up to the tops of the ridge as the evening sunlight was fading. It is about two minutes long and has some music from O’Jizo (a Japanese Celtic Band).