Seasons of Love
One of Peter’s teachers once told him to throw all of his books away and just go outside.
“Everything you need to learn,” he said, “can be found in nature.”
Did he mean it?
Well, he may not have truly intended for Peter to ditch all of his books. (Although maybe he did!) But he did mean it, in the sense that everything we need to know can be learned by drawing closer to the natural world.
For most of human history, the concept of learning from nature would have been not only obvious, but necessary. Everyday life would have just automatically included being immersed in (and at the mercy of) nature — learning from it, and letting its rhythms and wisdom infuse the human world.
We ate based on the seasons, harvesting what had grown in the ground. Our shelters had to accommodate the elements, and our routines would have reflected a necessary dependence upon the world we saw around us. Land that never had a fallow time to rest — a winter — would not be able to produce, flower or bloom.
When we let the truth of the elements inform us, we see more of our nature as beings within the world, witnessing the passion of fire or the potential of rain as it flows and transforms its shape into ice or sleet.
For us, though, it is possible to go throughout life without really interacting with nature: from air- conditioned cars to offices lit with florescent lights, technicolor vegetables in grocery store aisles and ripened fruit year round, regardless of where we live or what season it is.
Of course, we have access to so many amazing elements of modern life, but we have to work harder to remember that we are part of the natural world. When we do, it isn’t about pushing ourselves toward an old fashioned way of doing things to be hipster or twee about it, but to draw back to the wisdom of the world, and to let it give us the foundations & framework we need to create a life of wholeness.
When you think about your life, do you feel that you can see the seasons?
Or are you stuck in patterns of a particular phase?
Whether by expecting yourself to be perpetually in summer, producing and producing, or lingering in winter, quietly waiting longer than ideal to begin your next project or make big shifts in your life, we often do this to ourselves. Reconnecting to nature is our gentle reminder that we need the full spectrum: releasing and reflecting as Autumn, resting and deepening in Winter, planning and growing as Spring, and fruition and blossoming in Summer.
Just like the Earth, we need seasons of rest and recovery, seasons of sweetness and fullness, and space to grow and wither or flower and harvest in between.
So, how do we reconnect to the natural world? Especially if we’re feeling somewhat distant or disengaged from it.
I invite you to give yourself the gift of a soft start.
A first step, which might feel absurdly simple, is just to go outside. What do you notice? What do you feel? Even if what comes up for you first is a shade of discomfort — a chill, an unfamiliar noise, humidity. Let yourself breathe it all the way in. I love to go outside as part of my morning, letting myself wake up with the world outside me, taking my mug of coffee & cashew milk outside and just sitting. If you journal or meditate as part of a daily practice, could you do that outside?
I also want to offer you this simple invocation, or a little mantra that you can incorporate into your day, as you consider aligning your life more and more with the rhythms and cycles of nature.
This is a quote from the naturalist John Muir, who wrote,
“It is wonderful how nature is a part of us.
The sun shines not on us, but in us.
The rivers flow not past but through us.”
What practices connect you to the natural world? I’d love to know. Or, if you feel stuck or challenged as you think about this, I’d love to know that too, and I’m here to help.
I love the idea of being in nature but also live in a city so there is a disconnect … I dream of living in nature but like you mentioned have some disturbances and fears once I’m actually in nature. (Disturbances like fire ants and fears like snakes and wild animals!)
I am blessed to live on the edge of a million acre protected wilderness. I grew up in nature and am more drawn to it than ever. My body naturally desires to live by the seasons and I feel my best when I do. I spend a lot of time in nature tuning in my senses to everything that is going on. I do yoga in the morning dew most of the time (when it’s not winter). I walk barefoot on rocks and tree roots. I sit on glacier bluffs that are thousands of years old. I love how much I feel like myself, and how much more I trust my intuition when I spend more time in nature. I simply have much less desire for material goods, I just want to be a part of what we were for so long until we created the barriers of our homes and cities to shield us from nature. It was interesting to me to note how often I sit on our deck by habit when instead I could sit in the grass. We observe nature from such a place of “apart from” rather than “part of” it’s just astounding to me. We are not apart from it. We come from it, we will one day return to it.
I’ve made my own little haven on my tiny back porch. It’s elevated so I can see all the gorgeous woods behind my house. Coffee and tea times happen often there both solo and with friends and my puppy. 💜
I love nature. I love the varying seasons and what beauty and excitement each season brings. I love gardening, and providing fresh food for the table. I love learning to can, the feeling of accomplishment that brings.
My daughter and her 1 yr old have moved in with me, and all “getting myself back on track” went out the window. The dreambook, I don’t have time for. I barely have time to have my coffee and greet the day.
I need cloned.
I agree 100%. It is exactly why I created a small retreat space just 30 minutes outside of Portland. It’s in the Columbia River Gorge and teams get to do their deep work surrounded by nature. It’s magic. Thanks for spreading the word!!!
Well, I’m a gardener, so the seasons move me along, will I or won’t I. I must confess that I am usually ‘running to catch up’ most of the time. However, I typically start my day with a cup of coffee and meander around the back yard with the dogs to see what’s new or what’s next. This is the second year that I have been ‘planting by the moon signs’ and have found that it appears to work…often, it rains within 2 days of planting, and I most of the plants survive. Nature gives me a sense of place, a sense of peace and of rest.
In nature, I am grounded. I seek ways to be out in the garden, walking among trees, closer to the water. I feel our bodies are porous, absorbing what surrounds us, I imagine oxygen flowing through me whenever I am in nature. Everything down to the cellular level has seasons, and everything I’ve ever learned about life I observe whenever I am outside, in natural areas. The sun brings energy, and the moon brings calm. The rain is cleansing, and the snow envelops. In all of these aspects I hear my mantra: “slow it down…slow it down…”
This is lovely. I am going to start the practice of taking my coffee and my meditation outside in the morning. You have inspired me to make a special spot. I do have a rocking chair on a bridge above a creek and it is a lovely spot to sit and just be. I find that the intentions, requests and affirmations I make while in nature feel so much more powerful and true. I imagine my grounded roots mingling with the trees, creeks, and rocks which surround me. That is when I feel one with nature and the universe. Thank you for the reminder. I forget to do this when life is pushing at my edges.
Since I moved in May I didn’t give nature a chance at all. I’m just either not feeling well or when the humidity is high, I’m unable to breathe so I thought that I get up very early in the morning, the humidity should not be as high, I can go on the porch and sit there drinking a meg of hot tea with honey. I’ve been doing this now for over a week. When I first sit I lean back on the chair and notice the birds chirping I hear my fur baby sniffing all around then I open my eyes and take deep breaths and smell the fresh air. Notice a slight breeze on my skin. I took all of the getting in touch with nature for granted. I try and go out each morning before the heat and humidity starts. Thank You Briana. You make me see things in a whole different light. God Bless.
Hi, Briana. I always enjoy and look forward to your messages. I think the most about seasons when we hit fall. It’s the one season I can truly taste and smell and feel. … and this is making me contemplate all sorts of things about when my year really starts and why. Something to chew on. Thanks!