“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood,” wrote Rachel Carson while contemplating how we can renew our delight in the mysteries of earth, sea, and sky. “If I had influence with the good fairy that is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
Many of us live in small apartments made of cement, metal, and hard wiring. Our bodies are strained by the lack of movement, our lungs are filled with polluted air, our senses are bombarded with an endless stream of stimuli. It is more challenging than ever to find a few moments to stop and just be. Recent tragic events that swept across the world have reminded us with alarming clarity how small and tiny our dwellings are, how everything can shift in a matter of weeks, days even, and how vital it is to be closer to nature.
Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us, infiltrating our physical sensations and our sense of life. Everything is us, and we are everything: a ray of sunlight, a cloud whose shadow reminded us that it’s passing, the faces of passers-by, a burst of occasional laughter, a conversation fragment, and then the sun above us, an everlasting source of being. It is now more than ever that we feel the need to reconnect with Mother Nature, be awake, be alive — a sentiment reaffirmed in an exquisite poem by Gregory Orr This Is What Was Bequeathed Us included in an immensely gratifying collection How Beautiful the Beloved.
THIS IS WHAT WAS BEQUEATHED US
by Gregory Orr
This is what was bequeathed us:
This earth the beloved left
Left to us.
No other world
But this one:
Willows and the river
And the factory
With its black smokestacks.
No other shore, only this bank
On which the living gather.
No meaning but what we find here.
No purpose but what we make.
That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:
Turn me into song; sing me awake.