I can’t claim to understand my own urge to sit among the wildflowers. Beauty? Sure. But even before the candied blooms pop, as soon as green shoots break the spring soil, I’m sure I’m missing out on a secret. Before the beauty, nature draws. Why?
The cliches are many: “the healing power of nature”. Again, sure. But what, exactly, is this “power”, and what is this “healing”? It’s more than rest, more than just that we ‘feel better”. There’s an existential longing before there’s any tiredness.
I can sit cross legged in the middle of a daisy field and feel vaguely that I’ve come home. As I listen to the sigh of wind through the field, I don’t hear anything missing. That moment is not a passage on the way to, for example, people. People, even beloved ones, are not missing from this, though none are here. This field is the means to no end. Even the history of kingdoms and holocausts, here in the daisies and the wind, does not ask for redemption. Why not?
It’s a feeling that something important is happening right here. And that this importance somehow outweighs whatever is the chatter on the evening news. Western culture adds one more brick on its Hell project, yet somehow the hummingbird sipping at the lantana on my porch seems more important.
No, I have no theory to support this. I’m not sure the Romantic movement ever produced one; did Wordsworth ever do more than say this in a thousand fine but redundant ways? And the chance universe of the secular modern is just silent about the meaning of everything. After all, if what we see around us just happened, then both hummingbird and hell are random collisions of particles. No feeling means anything. No thoughts will survive the sun.
Even my own Judeo-Christian and designed universe doesn’t fully account for my pre-cognitive intuitions, intuitions surely common to churched and unchurched alike. Unless I’m so audacious to say that the love of the Creator for every sparrow, for every blade of grass, is literally what you and I are feeling. We feel His affections – His bowels, in that old Hebraic sense. All nations, races, and tongues feel His pleasures but they don’t even know it.
We feel His paternal love for what He makes, and we mistake what moves through our depths for our own self, but He is in fact closer to us than we are to ourselves. The Spirit within me longs with longings that cannot be articulated? Longings for the daisy, the hummingbird, and the lantana, as well as for the hymns and the alms? Is it You? Is it really You?