Nurturing a deeper, more interactive connection with nature is essential for the Earth’s wellbeing and our own, says Jini Reddy, as she spends a week in Devon learning from indigenous traditions
I head off into the woods before dawn breaks. My footsteps are light, my thoughts ethereal, swirling. I turn inward to feel my way. There are only shadows to guide me, the crackle of branches, the soil underfoot. I have withdrawn in pursuit of stillness, communion, hope, a desire to shed the whirring of my rational mind.
There is much in the natural world that to me feels mysterious and potent. Lately, the call to enter into a deeper union with it has grown more insistent. It’s no longer enough to go for scenic walks, or marvel at wildlife sightings. I crave a conversation with nature; on nature’s terms, not just my own human-centric ones.
I yearn to connect with that force, the energy or intelligence, which animates the physical world. This belief, in the sacredness of the Earth, is one that is shared by diverse cultures throughout history. It’s one that we in industrialised societies have become divorced from, to devastating effect – as evidenced by the climate and economic crises of our time, though the tide is turning.
As Thomas Berry writes in the book Spiritual Ecology: “There is a single issue before us: survival. Not merely physical survival, but survival in a world of fulfilment, survival in a living world, where the violets bloom in the springtime, where stars shine down in all their mystery, survival in a world of meaning.”