Nature Meditation #9 – Love and Fear

From “Winter Solstice at the Moab Slough” by Terry Tempest Williams in Heart of the Land, the Nature Conservancy, 1994.
“D.H. Lawrence writes, “In every living thing there is a desire for love, for the relationship of union with the rest of things.”
I think of my own stream of desires, how cautious I have become with love. It is a vulnerable enterprise to feel deeply and I may not survive my affections.
If I choose not to become attached to nouns – a person, place, or thing — then when I refuse an intimate’s love or hoard my spirit, when a known landscape is bought, sold and developed, chained or grazed to a stubble, or a hawk is shot and hung by its feet on a barbed-wire fence, my heart cannot be broken because I never risked giving it away.
But what kind of impoverishment is this to withhold emotion, to restrain our passionate nature in the face of a generous life just to appease our fears? A man or woman whose mind reins in the heart when the body sings desperately for connection can only expect more isolation and greater ecological disease. Our lack of intimacy with each other is in direct proportion to our lack of intimacy with the land. We have taken our love inside and abandoned the wild
.”Terry Tempest Williams

The truth in this quote stuns me. Yes, love hurts. We know that from the time we are small, when our first pet dies, when our first friend rejects us, when we realize that we are not the object of everyone else’s love and affection. People – of all species on this planet – hunger the most to be loved.

And because of that very hunger, we fear reaching out and loving, because once we love, we can be hurt. And that possible future pain bothers us much more than the hunger!
Love of the natural world is our first nature. Witness our little ones, fascinated by wind, by sun, by kittens and puppies and fish. So ready to get up and explore the world around them, sample dirt, feel grass, pick up rocks. As children, we know our place. We love nature – until someone convinces us that it is something to be avoided, and feared. 

We are part of the circle of life, we don’t exist here alone. We rely on nature to feed us, clothe us, keep us warm, nurture us. But everything in nature is not pretty, and is not fun or necessarily even safe. Wasps sting, animals bite. Nature can be WILD. How can we love what can hurt us?

Isn’t that what we do every day? No one knows our true feelings, no one knows when we have been hurt by a word, or a look. No one knows when we have that stricken sensation, when we realize that the way we want our life to be is not the way it is going? Life IS enduring all that makes us afraid,from the moment we get up, until the moment we go to sleep – and sometimes in our dreams.

We care about the things that we love. And as Williams says in the quote above, our failure to love Nature – our fear of loving nature, has prevented us from intimacy with nature. Building a friendship happens step by step. And so does love. My hope is that you will take a step each day to get to know nature, and to develop an intimacy with the natural world that sustains us.

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