Custom artwork by Laurie Cullum
It was five of us, driving along in a snowy blizzard to go skiing in celebration of one of our birthdays. We were sharing with the birthday girl some of the many reasons why we love her, a beautiful way to express appreciation and connect, when someone asked her, “what is something about yourself that you love?” She answered after a moment of thought with a grateful nod to finding connection to source, in nature, at an early age in life.
Needing space from strife at home as a little girl, there was a tree branch, a particular one, that she found she would retreat to. An intuitive pull to a place in nature where she began to know that she was connected to the divine energy that infuses everything, reminding her that she was whole and loved just as she was. A belonging that she came to understand was accessible to her at any moment, tree branch or not. Listening to her story as we drove down the snowy road, I appreciated immediately that I too knew that place on the tree branch. I knew the strife that led there. And I knew it as a little girl also.
My place was a small artesian spring that surfaced and flowed through the woods behind our house. My sensory experiences there were transcendent. The smells of the moist fertile Earth, the pine trees, the spring water itself. The colors and textures of gorgeous mosses flourishing along the banks. The sounds of meandering trickles of crystal clear water, a gentle breeze rustling the forest. The feeling of the soft, solid ground beneath my bare hands and feet while crouched over the banks drinking the cold, pure elixir of life. An overall feeling of peace and belonging, outshining all the other senses.
My place was the big lichen covered boulder nestled among the pine trees that I loved to climb to the top of and just sit, being a part of the world around me. How many chipmunks would actually climb up the rock to look me in the eye? How many hummingbirds could I lure to land on my little pointer finger perch, held as still as possible, by wearing my bright red jacket? How many ladybugs or butterflies would grace me with their presence? How many ways could I witness that I was just a part of it all, unfolding moment to moment?
These are my earliest memories of being shown and embracing, through being in nature, my connection to source, the universal life force. These kinds of experiences continue to bring me gratitude for life, reverence for nature, a deep sense of curiosity and a knowing that I am safe, loved and connected in this big world. Not that it always comes easily, but that connection to source is always there and accessible. Once you’ve experienced it, simply the desire to continue finding your way in opens the door.
I’m not a little girl anymore, and I have forgotten about my connection to source occasionally, but life has had a way of reminding me both gently and abruptly, depending on how far I’ve strayed, that being in nature, while in my true nature, is my way in. Finding that connection, allowing it to inform and nurture, and returning to it time and again keeps source running strong.
I hope we all find our tree branch, our way in.