Over the last several weeks, as winter moves into spring, and I start to transition from Chicago to New York, I have been spending as much time as possible outdoors. I find nature cures the difficult feelings I have about leaving a place and friendships that mean a great deal to me. My outdoor exploits have taken me to Nelson Lake looking for the White Pelicans, fishing at Blackwell Forest Preserve, the Morton Arboretum to help the kids in my homeschool group identify conifers, and along the Fox River on long walks. On rainy days, I have found myself inside reading and listening to tapes from my new favorite author John O'Donohue.
I am currently working on John O'Donohue's book called "Eternal Echoes, Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong" and stumbled upon a passage that sums up for me what nature brings to my world. Why it brings me peace and why I strive to spend as much time as I can surrounded by it. I have copied the passage below:
The Beauty of Wild Distance
Outside there is great distance. When you walk out into the landscape the fields stretch away towards the horizon. At dawn, the light unveils the vast spread of nature. Gnarled stones hold nests of fossils from a time so distant we cannot even imagine it. At night, the stars reflect light from the infinite distance of the cosmos. When you experience the distance stretching away from the shore of your body, it can make you feel minuscule. Pascal said, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me." There is a magnificent freedom in Nature; no frontier could ever frame her infinity. There is a natural wildness in the earth. You sense this particularly in wild places that have never been tamed by human domestication. There are places where the ocean praises the steady shore in a continual hymn of wave. There are fresh, cold streams pouring through mountain corners in a rhythm that never anticipated the gaze of a human eye. Animals never interfere with the wildness of the earth. They attune themselves to the longing of the earth and move within it as if it were a home rhythm. Animals have no distance from the earth. They have no plan or programme in relation to it. They live naturally in its landscapes, always present completely to where they are. There is an apt way in which the animal who always lives in the "now" of time can fit so perfectly into the "where" of landscape. The time and mind of the animal rest wherever it is. The poet Wendell Berry says, "I come into the peace of wild things.../...For a time/ I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."
If you get a chance to read anything from this fantastic author, you will find that his writing brings much to your life.