By Life Positive January 2009 This extract from The Wisdom of Wilderness – Experiencing the healing power of nature by Gerald G. May reminds us that we are part of nature Wilderness is not a place; it is also a state of being…the primary meaning of ‘wild’ is ‘natural’… Wilderness, then, is not only the nature you find outdoors. It can also refer to your own true Nature – the you that is closest to your birth. This inner wilderness is the untamed truth of who you really are.In our modern, highly developed culture, most of us are estranged from our true nature, and consequently, from the nature around us. It is such an ancient thing that we have become accustomed to the pain of it…and before we can effectively act to heal the wounds we have inflicted upon the earth, we must somehow recover our own natural wholeness…only the grace of Something or Someone beyond us can bring us the healing. In my case, the healing came through Nature itself.My stories speak often of a Presence I encountered in the wilderness – or perhaps more accurately One who sought me out and drew me there. I called this Presence “the Power of Slowing”. It was this power that seemed to…show me very deeply who I am…a feeling of unity with the world. My lifelong prayer was answered during those years in the outdoors, and this may have been Nature’s greatest gift to me… The Power of Slowing for me, also had a distinctly feminine quality. I identified it with Mother Nature, an ancient female archetype… As strange as it may sound, She “talked’ to me and calmed my fears. Now, a decade later, I still feel this Power and Presence in my life, more continually and more deeply than ever. But it is without gender now, and far less dramatic. In truth, it feels quite ordinary. It simply is…Wilderness is everywhere. You don’t have to go tromping to the mountains or desert as I did. You may find it in a local park, an open field, or a small woods… … you may even find it in your own room, or in your own body and mind. All it takes is listening for Wisdom’s call…Wilderness changes you. You come out of it a deeper, wilder (more natural) you… It changed my attitude toward cancer. Before my times in outdoor solitude, I probably would have accepted the general reaction to cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, which is to see them as enemies. Now when I think of my cancer cells, I recall the time in the snow when I looked where the pileated woodpecker looked, and saw the perfection of trees, each of which, in its own way deformed, scarred, misshapen, even rotting… So the deformed lymphocytes that wander through my body cannot be enemies… nor do I concoct some silly tree-hugging love for them. Like all other things in true Nature, they simply are what they are…I am aware that this looks and sounds way too passive for most modern civilised people. From the inside, though, it is anything but passive…It is alive, vibrant, dynamic… Most of all it is simply what Nature taught me about being who I am in this world, just as it is in this present moment, just as it is. I do not have to perform an imaginary extraction of myself from things- as- they- are in order to respond accurately to them…This is why I say that it is nature Herself who must heal our wound and turn us toward wholeness.
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