Nature as Higher Power?

In 12 step programs people are asked to turn their lives over to God as they understand him. Humorously, people in recovery say, “It can be anyone or anything as long as it is not you.” Perfect for people in addiction who walk in with ego problems. Yesterday I heard a wise man say, “Even a doorknob can be your higher power. This may sound silly but wisdom has taught us that the God people have been taught to believe in is a judging, rejecting god, one they are afraid to turn their lives over to. A door knob may be the best a person can do at the beginning. Over time, that changes and the loving, receiving, helping God begins to show up.”

In response to what this guy was saying, a young man said, “Nature is my Higher Power.”

I said to him, “I would not have said what you just said when I was first in recovery, but I can say this. When I turned my life over to God as my Higher Power, I began to hear him speaking to me in countless ways, including in nature. I could sight hundreds of experiences I have had but I will tell you of only two:

“I was weeding my garden one day and I noticed that some weeds had shallow roots and were easy to pull out. But others were deeply rooted and if I tried to pull them out, I usually broke the stem and left the roots. I could no longer see the root, but it was surely there  to grow and pop its head above the ground again later. The only way to get it out was to dig down under the plant and dig it out completely. This could damage the other plants, of course.

“It occurred to me that my character defects are just like these weeds. And just like weeds, they get in the way of the growth of our good qualities. Sometimes we have to dig deeply to find the source of our character defects. It may take years to get rid of these…we may carry them to the grave. Other defects can be eradicated by a simple change of habit or with a larger awareness.

“This is what the weeds taught me.

“Another time, I was watching with fascination a little ant carrying a big bread crumb, four times his size. I watched him until he came to a hole that other ants were crawling in and out of. He was bringing the bread crumb home to store, it seemed to me. The problem was that the crumb was too large to get into the hole. He kept trying but without success. Finally, he started to nibble at the bread and then other little ants came and nibbled as well. Eventually the little ant was able to get the bread into the hole.

“As I watched the ants work together, I thought about the burdens we often try to carry on our own. When we share our troubles with others, they get lighter and more manageable. At the same time that we share, our sharing can often be nourishment for others who are also struggling with burdens of their own.

“That little colony of ants taught me an important lesson about friendship.”

Both of the above experiences brought tears to my eyes.

Then I added: “God is not limited to any one way to communicate with us. If you are going to choose nature as your Higher power, then listen and watch and be prepared to hear what nature has to teach you.”

Meditation on Spring

Parker Palmer’s book Let Your Life Speak continues to bring insight to my life right now. I have been reading his meditations on the seasons, this morning about spring. He notes that, while we tend to glorify spring with its blooming splendor, it doesn’t begin beautiful. Early spring is grey and muddy and downright depressing. He writes: “…the humiliating events of life, the event that leave ‘mud on my face’, or that ‘make my name mud’ may create the fertile soil in which something new can grow.”

He notes, too, that in that mud that can suck our boots, the only signs of life see are tiny green shoots here and there, hardly noticeable. It will be weeks before we can identify them by leaf or flower, yet these little seedlings are bursting with life. “Spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility,” Palmer writes, “for the intuitive hand that may turn into a larger insight, for the glance to touch that may thaw a frozen relationship, for the stranger’s act of kindness that makes the world seem hospitable again.”

In another book I am reading, On Women Turning 70, Marge Frantz is quoted as saying: “The longer you live, the more you learn to put things together and have a broader view and a little distance, to think more objectively.” I think this is true for me. While I tend to be taken in by what I call “grey days”, there is the self in me that remembers the totality of spring. As Palmer suggests, I am noticing wee signs of growth in myself and others and often it occurs during muddy days, times when life seems dire. It makes those times survivable. This is what hope is really about, believing that there are seeds here in this muddy place about to burst.

But youth is impatient, mostly because it hasn’t yet accepted pain a part of life. “Let’s get this over with,” youth says. Palmer suggests that addictions are about escaping the pain that life is bound to bring. In my world of recovery, the newcomer is admonished to “accept life on life’s terms”. It is the hardest lesson a newly recovering person has to accept. Those accused of being controllers are actually trying to maneuver their environment, including the people in it, to prevent pain. I know – I’ve been there.

Palmer mentions humiliating events. I think these are especially powerful in spurring growth because they expose the ego, that part of our selves that gets in the way of growth because it is a counterfeit version of the true self. In the realm of spirit, I believe, it is the discovery and living of the true self that we are here on earth. But just like the little seed, it takes time to grow and survive, blossom and eventually bear fruit. It is in the bearing of fruit that our greatest contribution is made.


I have been ignoring the garden
My body said not to bother
But now the DRs give me the go-ahead
So I gleaned today
First Roma’s (before Bernie discovered them)
Lettuce, chard, parsley, kale,
carrots, onions – red and yellow

Tonight chicken breaded and cheese stuffed, from Stitsworth in Bemidji
Leftover yellow Squash
The only packaged food I will eat:
Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice

Bugs and Prayers

We brought rain with us to the resort. Jerry and Kate said it was much needed and now there has been an abundant supply. It may rain yet today. An answer to prayer for those who prayed for rain. For others who may have prayed for sunny days for their graduation day parties or weddings, they will have to wait their turn. I think Lincoln was speaking for God when he said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time.”

On that note, the mosquitoes are ecstatic. They had to lay low during the drought years, but their time has come again. I guess they deserve their turn, too, to have their prayers answered. Every low spot where water sits, they do their family thing. This too shall pass but meanwhile we swat, spray, and sometimes run for cover. Kate said she can’t wait for the dragon flies. She doesn’t  mind it when they do their dive bombing right in front of your face because they are  diving for mosquitoes. I can’t say the same, but it is far better than mosquitoes sucking your blood.

Extreme Weather

Day two of greeting the sun. This is really a one-sided conversation. I show up, but she hides.

While the weather outside my door is hardly extreme this morning, the extremes in weather of recent years came to my mind. Droughts are longer lasting, floods and fires in some areas have become so common as to be an expected happenstance of seasons like mosquitoes in Minnesota. Winds are more abusive than ever.

So I thought this morning, perhaps this is how the earth takes care of itself when it is wounded or diseased. Self-healing, like blood rushing to our shin when we bump it on the bed frame causing swelling and bruising. Like fluids running out our nose to rid us of foriegn invaders.

We don’t like these weather extremes because they sometimes cause us pain or inconvenience. Like the bruised leg and the runny nose we have to work with it. Keep it from getting us down. Chicken soup, cold compresses, lots of vitamin C…whatever it takes.

Turning the Seasons

I had a discussion with my grandchildren recently about seasons. One made a comment about winter being here and I used the opportunity to talk about the calendar seasons with the four days of turnover between seasons, the solstices. My granddaughter, Ana, was delighted to learn that her birthday is on one of these solstice days…December 20.  I told them that their Aunt Kate’s birthday is on the day when spring begins.

I wonder why we don’t celebrate these days. They are so nicely spread throughout the year unlike the approaching clump of holidays now approaching. I believe Pagans have celebrations of the solstice days. I am not familiar with their customs so I don’t know what they do. But it would be sweet to come up with some ideas of one’s own.

Alas, my kids are all gone now with kids of their own. I don’t think Bernie would be very excited to start something new. It takes children to make traditions come alive.

Autumn Colors

The colors are here! I found that the arrival of the Autumn colors does not really occur at once. Various trees with their brilliant red, orange, and yellow leaves peak at different times, within a few days of one another. No matter how you cut it, it is magical and to have a warm day to walk the woods is a gift beyond gifts. I think I will take the grandchildren with me. There is a park north of Sartell I used to take our dog Ginger to with lovely trails along the river. Yes….