Since I was young, I found peace and unconditional acceptance in the natural world, even in difficult times. Especially in difficult times. During a traumatic adolescence, I surrounded myself with nature in my hideaway room at home. There was a fifty-gallon aquarium, and shelves in the windows filled with houseplants. Some even vined across the ceiling. My own private forest.
In Nature, I found evidence of a supreme being beyond what our senses show. Through countless moments filled with awe and wonder at the mystery of life, of connections with other beings, I grew to love the Earth, its life, and its mysteries. As we approach a precipice of no-return in the global crisis brought on by our industrial and consumer-oriented lifestyle, I feel great sadness, along with deep gratitude for the gift of life itself, and for all the moments when I sense the Beyond through simple contacts with other living things. Climate grief is a true thing.
I wonder what awe-filled moments do you recall that you wish your grandchildren—and theirs—could experience?
Have you ever . . .
Watched an eagle soar and listened to its distant call?
Sat on a trailside boulder and watched an aspen seed float to the ground?
Had a hummingbird check your red bandanna for nectar?
Watched a glacier calve an iceberg?
Heard a rush of wings in the stillness of a heavy mist?
Watched a loggerheaded shrike hang a field mouse on a locust thorn?
Risen before dawn to visit booming grounds of lesser prairie chickens?
Watched a lone prairie dog scamper away from its village into the sunset?
Surprised a family of deer on a winter walk?
Watched a flock of robins sip melting snow from your house gutters?
Walked with a flashlight after dark in September to watch orb spiders at work?
Witnessed a black bear check out the milo fields on the high plains of Kansas?
Heard the scream of a cougar outside your tent in the middle of the night?
Watched autumn leaves dance with hundreds of migrating monarch butterflies at dusk?
Held a newly metamorphosed moth in your hand and watched its virgin flight?
Heard barking sea lions as they congregated on the shore below the seaside cliff where you stood?
Through six decades, travels from Oregon and California to Maryland and Florida, Minnesota to Arizona, as well as journeys to Japan, India, Hawaii, Canada, Alaska, Cuba, and Mexico—not to mention my own backyard—the wonderments of Earth have held me spellbound in every little nook. With deep gratitude for all I have been fortunate to witness, and with fervent hope that we can stop our catapult into disaster at COP26, I offer Part 2 of the slide show from my younger days. Let humanity not be responsible for the Omega curtain on our gem of a planet.
Music: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, “Chorale Symphony.”