The beauty contained in a single leaf can evaporate all of the mind’s chatter.Morning Altars by Day Schildkret
Awe and wonder. The way that hearing birds chirping first thing in the morning feels like a thread connecting me to every ancestor I’ve never known but whose DNA is in my body. They knew birds, I’m certain of it.
And leaves. And rain and sunshine. Some of them knew love and what it was like to give life and to keep that life going long enough to grow into their own being with the next generation of us.
When I want to know the quiet of time before too much technology and too many people, nature lets me tap into that deep history.
When I met my birth-mom’s ex-husband, he told me “your mom was a powerful witch. But she was afraid of it.” I can’t remember what I replied but internally I was seething. I had read her journals and spoken with her father and brother. My mother had reason to be uneasy, even afraid, of anything that might have made her life seem more outside of everyday reality than it already was. She had bipolar and from the list that I found of her medications, possibly schizophrenia as well. She was hospitalized more than once and was on disability due to her mental health issues. On some pages of her journal, she would write her name and the date and “I am here on planet earth” over and over again. How she could reconcile any “power” with her struggles to stay sane and present is beyond me.
Of course, I heard what he said through the raw newness of having read her journals recently and never having the chance to meet her; she died of pancreatic cancer eight years before I found my birth family. And there was also my own history, with my adoptive mother use dark magic against me from the time I was a child on. The word and concepts of “magic” have been deeply problematic in my life.
It has taken me a long time to not feel anger, fear, resentment at the very mention of “magic.” Even more to cross a large chasm into the understanding that magic is the simple act of being in sync with the energy that connects all beings, all existence.
Magic…is not some glamorous, supernatural power apart from life. It is the energies and processes of life itself. It is rooted in our connectedness with the life of the world around us, and its greatest effect is to root us and connect us even more fully. In fact, one could say that magic is the expression of our connectedness.
~ From the introduction to The Druid Magic Handbook by John Michael Greer
(Who is the author of the introduction?)
Only by turning to nature and understanding beauty as a way to find quiet as well as a way into magic could I finally heal through my way into seeing magic as something different than a struggle with mental illness or something used as a way of wielding power that perhaps should not be wielded. In order to better understand magic, I needed to awaken what Abraham Joshua Heschel called radical amazement.
I don’t know how Rabbi Heschel would feel about the use of the concept of magic in the same sentence as his name but his approach to God is also my approach to nature. And since nature is my church and my way of knowing that magic is nothing more than a way of being connected, then I like to think of Heschel and me as kindred spirits, whether or not he would agree with my assessment.
In his book God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, the good Rabbi also said:
Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.Abraham Joshua Heschel
And this too is the foundation of magic, of nature, of spirit. A will to wonder. Or to paraphrase Rumi, to replace our cleverness with an awe and curiosity that can be called bewilderment.