Good night, Mountains, you must protect us tonight. We are strangers here but we are good people. We don’t mean harm to anybody. Good night, Mister Pine Tree. We are camping under you. You must protect us tonight. Good night, Mister Owl. I guess this is your home where we are camped. We are good people, we are not looking for trouble, we are just traveling. Good night, Chief Rattlesnake. Good night, everyone. Good night, Grass People, we have spread our bed right on top of you. Good night, Ground, we are lying right on your face. You must take care of us, we want to live a long time.
– Jaime de Angulo, Indian Tales
Nothing is unimportant during the solo days. Everything can be seen as part of the Great Mystery—every stone, every insect, every breath of wind. What’s more, everything is equal in this Creation, and everything has consciousness. This point of view can be experienced by opening up to talk and listen to the Earth; it does not have to be “believed” in. Our own ancestors once felt these experiences, before modern life cut us off from them with its arrogant belief only in reason. In the Jewish tradition, the Baal Shem Tov (“Master of the Good Name”), the 17th century founder of Hasidism, is said to have conversed regularly with wild animals.
Practice this by making a “thou” of everything you encounter, waking up the Creation to aliveness. Our Native American teachers suggest speaking out loud when you do this. Imagine, as many teachings suggest, that the wilderness is aware of your presence; you are seeing and being seen, knowing and being known. It’s o.k. to doubt; bring that into your dialogue. Ask the stones about your doubt. Ask the wind. Then listen to what they have to say to you. We are part of the world, and the world is part of us; everything that speaks, resonates within our own deep selves. You can hear them by listening with your heart, and letting your mind go still. You may feel that you’re just inventing the dialogue, and you may not trust your inner voice. That inner voice of intuition is actually the voice of God, the “still small voice” that Western tradition speaks of. The whole community of voices cannot be heard if we do not trust ourselves in the first place.
In a larger spiritual sense, everything in the Universe depends upon everything else for its existence, and nothing is separate. As ecotheologian Thomas Berry states,
Every being has two dimensions: its individual dimension and its universal dimension. The universe is the Great Self. That’s why we are so inspired by being among trees, hearing bird songs, seeing the colors of flowers, and watching the flow of rivers. The source of our inspiration is an encounter with the Great Self, the dimension where we experience fulfillment. We are not ourselves without it. Taking a drink of water when you are thirsty is as spiritual an experience as it is a physical one.
Alone in the Sacred World, it’s natural for your consciousness to expand as you make contact with rocks, plants, wind, sun, and other elements of the natural world. In meeting the Other, you are meeting the Self, without distractions. Here you can expand into your inner landscape, tasting each moment as in a dream, as you begin to remember something at the very core of your being.