Omnis mundi creatura
quasi liber et pictura
nobis est in speculum:
nostrae vitae, nostrae mortis,
nostri status, nostrae sortis
[All the world’s creatures, as a book and a picture, are to us as a mirror; in it our life, our death, our present condition and our passing are faithfully signified.]
Alain De Lille (C1128-1202/3)
It is important to walk in your own spiritual tradition, one that resonates with who you are and the road you have walked. There is no one-size-fits all answer, for although there is only one mountain, there are many paths to the summit. That said, the view from the summit is the same.
For some of us we find our home in Islam, or Christianity, or Buddhism or the Hindu tradition, or one of the many other possibilities. What is important here, is that we open the channel to the Divine/God/ IO, and that we work hard to both enlarge and keep open that channel.
One way of doing that is through Nature, and our connection to the planet. We are a part of the planet, made from and fed by it. In time, each of us will return to it and be reabsorbed by it. Our physical self will no longer exist, and yet it will have become a part of the planet, as it was before it appeared. In so doing we will be connected to all those who have passed and all those yet to be formed from it. There is no physical separation, either past, present, or future. We arise from our mother, the earth, walk upon and with her, and then return to be with and within her once more.
Thus, if the earth is our physical mother, then it is obvious that we should listen and learn from her, as we did when we were small children, rather than when we were teenagers and our mother suddenly became ignorant overnight. The Earth is talking to us constantly, if we choose to listen. All we have to do is listen. Listening is hard however, if we are insistent on making our point-of-view heard. How can we listen when it is us doing the talking? We need to learn to be silent, and to quiet our minds, so that we can develop our listening skills.
There are ways of doing this.
One way is an earth meditation. Unlike the traditional forms of meditation, which are about stilling yourself and going within, or contemplative prayer, which is very similar, where the aim is to listen to Spirit and the still small voice within, an earth meditation is directed both within and without.
It is important to make a regular time to be with the planet and to incorporate that into your tikanga or custom/tradition. That could take the form of a walk in a forest, or along a beach. It could even be just going to a park and sitting quietly within it. What is important here is to be as close as possible to Nature, to listen and learn from it. That means being open, along with listening and observing.
My own way of doing this is as follows: each morning, when I am at home and, wherever possible when I am travelling, I will rise early, in the space between day and night, when the energies are in balance, and go outside onto the lawn by our front gate. I will deliberately go barefoot, for the earth talks to us through our feet. My Samoan friends tell me that we should stand barefoot on the planet for at least 20 minutes each day, because it is good for the soul. i think there is much in what they say. It maintains our connection with the Earth and strengthens our respect for and relationship with her. I have a long karakia (Māori prayer) gifted to me which I recite. Each day when I get up, and each evening before I retire. It is a part of my tikanga, or tradition. I take several deep breaths, and allow myself to feel the ground beneath me. Then I speak the karakia aloud. It takes several minutes to complete it, but the act of focusing upon the words and the energies contained within it allow/encourage me to ground myself. I usually finish with a waiata, a small song, to express my gratitude. And when I am done, I will often stand for some minutes, quiet within myself, and observing what is around me. It is then I will perhaps see birds, or hear them in the trees. I may be drawn to the weather or the light, or perhaps a significant pattern or form in the clouds. What comes, comes. And all the while I am standing barefoot upon my mother, the Earth. What is different here is that it is an eyes-open meditation
It is important to be grounded upon the planet. Wearing shoes and/or standing on concrete or asphalt is rather like holding a conversation while wearing hearing protectors. You may have a favourite poem or song of your own which you can offer to the planet. As you develop this tikanga for yourself, you will find that you can do it anywhere, and may even find yourself doing it in down time or spare minutes during your day. The more you do it, the more sensitive you will become to the subtle energies of the planet and the thin veil of air which surrounds her. You will become aware of patterns and interconnections within Nature and the natural world.
And it is here that the true taonga or treasures lie. The gifts that our mother is giving us cannot be quantified or purchased in a supermarket. That is merely stuff. It has no intrinsic value and is only valuable for its functionality.
The whisper of a passing bird; a pattern in the sky, or the feel of grass underfoot; these are the true gifts.