A Part of You

I ran tonight for the first time in a long time. Not long, twenty minutes according to the tenants of my plan (this is 20 More Minutes after all) and I stuck to it coming in at just over 21 minutes. Slow, quiet and alone in the bush. A conditioning run that will hopefully become frequent so I can complete my goals for the summer.

At the end of the run I came across Tricia walking the dogs and cat. The old dog laid down as we were talking so TJ took the other one farther into the woods. I sat down beside Maggie and the cat stood guard nearby. I ran my fingers through Maggie’s fur while she panted as old dogs do, and then she stopped panting and laid her head down on her forepaws and watched the woods move as I do, watched leaves on branches dance in unison, watched the grasses in the breeze, piqued her ears when the forest made sound and followed that sound away as it disappeared into nothing.

I said my thanks then. I gave thanks for nature’s attention to detail and for the opportunity to sit there among the trees and take it all in. I gave thanks for moments of peace away from the maddening pace of our lives. I prayed that all of us could feel the calming power of nature, and then it dawned on me.

I often give thanks to nature for it’s beauty and serenity, for the chance it offers me to get away. There’s this thing that is so perfect, undeniably, absolutely flawless, and every so often I get to commune with it and take a breath. But I realized tonight – we know many things in life, but it takes time to understand them – that my being is every bit a part of nature as the trees and the grasses, as much as the dandelion flowers collapsing in the evening. We are nature. We are not something separate, certainly not godlike lauding over the rest. We are just this forest, just these grasses, just the lime green tips of spruce branches expanding in the spring. We are all of this, and only this.

So I ended my thanks by acknowledging that I am a part of you. All of us – the forests, the oceans, the fossil fuels underground, the coworker that pissed me off today – we all live and die together as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. When you stab me on a bridge over a river, you stab yourself. When you shoot me in the mean streets of any town, or rape me in an unlit alley, or cheat or steal from me, these things you do to yourself. And when you give me a hug, or hold the door for me, or smile in passing, when you spread your innate compassion and empathy, you do these things to yourself as well.

I’m asking you to help us realize that we belong to each other, that we are nature, and natural, and that hatred doesn’t exist in the patterns of our wild spaces. I’m asking you to help us learn that there is no need to harbor ill will towards anything else, to help us give way and allow ourselves to be entwined in your caring branches, and that we need to take care of everything around us.


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