And it’s important, I think, to recognize that the experience of profound humility and a recognition of one’s littleness is not the same as being belittled or being humiliated. In a culture where some of the most prominent figures in contemporary media thrive on belittling and humiliating others, this is an important distinction.
I know that people go to nature to experience calm and get inspiration. I know that being in the wilderness is a vulnerable experience, that it requires courage. I know that the wilderness teaches people things that they need to learn. I know that a lot of the people who would benefit the most from some time in the wilderness don’t usually have the time or the money to go to the wilderness.
As I turned to continue along the path, a pale purple butterfly flew off my left foot. Apparently, she had joined our meditation too. Her delicate levity offered perfect balance to the heron’s gravity.
Walking away, I was grateful for the invitation to pause and join the heron in stillness so fully that the mirage of our separateness dissolved completely for a moment. I was grateful for the presence of creatures who remind me that we are one. And I was grateful that these moments, though always with me and within me, come to find me when I need them most…
On the hike back to my car I paused every so often for a full minute of stillness to look, listen and feel at the natural happenings around me. In some places I had a broad view of the river or of conifers growing along a ridge. In other places I zeroed in on the natural minutia of a rotting log on the forest floor or the tepid water at the base of a beaver dam. In each place I found delight, curiosity, calm, and a sort of companionship.