On Nature

Ice_Lake2

-On riversNature-

 

She is fierce and fragile
Breakable, wound-able, destructible.
Yet formidable, powerful, unstoppable.

Her mountains loom stark and immovable, incomprehensible in their beauty, their immensity, their majesty.

Yet…

Their flanks bear the scars of man; white slices carved in snaking ribbons. God have mercy.

Their peaks sweat and weep and bleed in the ever-warming atmosphere; her sweet, pure life leaking from every orifice, pouring over ledges, carving through rocks. Her life, and ours…the life of future years leaking out today. Christ have mercy.

Her rivers roar in single-minded course toward the ocean, shaping, nourishing, swallowing on its way. She whispers and thunders, she is milky smooth, she foams at the mouth. Her crystal waters absorbing all the colors and reflecting back a blue-green hue unmatched by her surroundings.

Yet…

Flecks of blue and white, red and yellow, shimmers of metallic, ribbons of plasticine course in her veins until they clog her arteries with the plaque of human waste. Lord have mercy.

Trees

Her forests stand tall and proud; ranks of green marching boldly over fields and hills, valley floors and mountain walls. They give life to the air and to the earth, they shelter the birds and fuel the fauna. They whisper their secrets to the wind, they sustain the life of all.

Yet…

Bulldozers tear this rich green dress from the mountain’s side, exposing her nakedness, eager to rape her fertility. And the trees lie uprooted, arms and legs broken, skin torn in careless wounds, sap bleeding, leaves weeping. They give of their lives willingly, but this – this is violent slaughter. Christ have mercy.

My own footsteps tread dusty brown scars, my consumption adds to the death of the river, my body stays warm in a house of wood, near a fire that burns away trees. I daily add to the destruction of this impressive domain. God have mercy.

Yet…

Nature is continuously healing her wounds. Tufts of green push relentlessly up through the dusty earth packed hard by footfalls and tire tracks. Wasted, running, unused water flows from taps back to its home beneath the surface, joining with the soul of the earth. Death turns to life in incomprehensible rhythm.

This is grace.

We can use and abuse, waste and consume. We can convince ourselves we have mastery, that we are in control. But in an instant she can destroy us with flood or storm, earthquake or mighty wind.

This is power.

I can walk through the mountains, even summit them. But I cannot conquer them. I am one small creature among the millions moving through these paths. I belong to nature – it sustains my body and soul, I am a small, small part of its magnificent whole. I belong to nature, it does not belong to me. And so I walk, thanking the trees and the rivers, the rocks and the rain, the wind and the mountains for the life they give me. I walk humbly in the presence of God for He is in every leaf and blade of grass.

This is beauty.


We took a pilgrimage, not to a church or shrine or temple but to the mountains.  For 23 days we walked in the presence of some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery in the Annapurna region of Nepal, completing the full Annapurna Circuit and a few side-treks. These are a few reflections written along the way, after hours and days of walking and breathing and sometimes contemplating.

 

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