Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nature's Healing

I go into nature because it inspires me. I like to get physical with the outdoors, camping in a tent and hiking through mountains for twelve hours a day.

I come alive outside. I feel part of something larger than my singular life, something bigger than what I have been able to imagine. Often I will see something in nature that leaves me stunned with awe. I also go for personal reasons. Sometimes I just need to unwind from a hectic week of work. Or I’m in dire need of exercise. 

Now and then, I just need to be quiet, to drink good hot coffee by a campfire, watch the sun rise over the mountains, and delight in chipmunks digging around in the ground looking for seeds and acorns.

Recently I have been going to deal with grief. This is what I have learned about death and grief from nature:

Death is accepted as a natural part of life in nature.
Matters of life and death are going on all the time. Animals eat each other in order to stay alive.

Scenes of tragedy and destruction heal and new life rises up.
The cones of the giant sequoia won’t open until a forest fire comes through and burns out the bushes and small trees, as well as the habitats of animals and birds. Fire prepares the ground for sequoia seeds to grow.

Death is the key to transformation in nature. 
When Mirror Lake filled in with sediment, killing the aquatic life, a meadow replaced it that provides new homes for chipmunks and birds.

Humans are part of this cycle of life.
When we die, our bodies will nourish the earth and be recycled, alongside the bodies of hawks, coyotes, and bears.

This does not mean there is no sorrow in nature. I still see the lost look in the eyes of three baby raccoons as they stayed close to the body of their mother after she had been killed by a car. They stayed for a moment, looked around, and then they headed into the woods. 

Nature mourns its losses for a moment, then moves on. I like to think that most of the orphaned raccoons survived and never forgot her.

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