Hey there! Have you ever listened to Joni Mitchell's version of her song "Woodstock"? It's such a haunting rendition and highlights her talent as both a songwriter and musical artist. I ask, because you might be more familiar with the pop-rock upbeat version performed by Crosby Stills Nash and Young.
I remember listening to the original and being captivated by the unique instrument Joni Mitchell played. It was a keyboard with a natural vibrato, a Fender-Rhodes electric piano I believe, and we actually had the chance to use a similar one in the studio during my recording days. Good memories!
Lately, I've been contemplating the phrase "back to the garden" and its various mythological interpretations. One of the most well-known stories is the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:17-24) for disobeying God and
eating from the Tree of Knowledge. It's an intriguing narrative that highlights the concept of separation. Sometimes I wonder if God represents nature itself, everything that is natural and interconnected, and if humans have somehow distanced themselves from this inherent connection.
Speaking from personal experience, I have begun immersing myself in nature on a regular basis, and it has had a profound impact on my spiritual journey. In the past, living in the city and working in an office, I didn't prioritize incorporating nature into my daily life. Sure, I had the occasional camping trip or day at the beach, but it wasn't a consistent practice. However, in the last seven to eight years, I've been exploring the wonders of nature through daily walks in the forest, sitting by creeks, hiking to viewpoints, and even speaking to trees. It may sound strange, but there's a deep sense of connection and presence that arises from these experiences.
I vividly remember a period when I would go to the forest to practice sermons, delivering talks to the trees as my audience. It may have seemed odd to an outsider, but I felt an incredible connection and gratitude. I used to think that as I expressed my thoughts and emotions to the trees, they transmitted them through their root systems, creating a web of connection that spanned the globe.
In addition to these nature encounters, I've found great solace and clarity through practices like meditation, prayer, and silence. Taking moments to be still and silent, allowing the mind to settle, has been transformative. It's not about suppressing thoughts but slowing them down, creating space for clarity and presence. By doing this, I believe we open ourselves up to Divine-Mind, allowing it to rewire the patterns that no longer serve us.
When I step into nature and embrace stillness, the wind rustling through the trees, the chirping of birds or crickets, there's a profound sense of calm and connectedness. It feels like the subconscious is being restructured, allowing Divine-Mind to clear away old programming that hinders our connection to wholeness.
Perhaps getting back to the garden means bridging the gap between our modern, disconnected culture and the living organism we are part of. It's about rediscovering our inherent wholeness and connection to the natural world. “We spend more time indoors and in routines that completely disconnect us from mother nature.”(Zach Bush MD)
So, how do we embark on this journey of rediscovery? Prioritizing self-care is one vital aspect. Understanding our own needs, desires, and thoughts empowers us to prioritize what brings us joy and fulfillment. It's about noticing our own emotions and thought patterns, learning what uplifts us and what brings us down. Through self-awareness, we can make choices that align with our well-being and bring us closer to a sense of wholeness.
Boundaries also play a significant role in this process (see Brene Brown). Sometimes, embracing the garden within means avoiding certain things, setting limits that protect our mental and emotional well-being. For instance, it could mean setting boundaries around technology and the constant barrage of information that surrounds us. In today's hyperconnected world, it's easy to get overwhelmed by notifications, social media, and the pressure to always be available. Taking breaks from screens and carving out tech-free zones can create space for us to reconnect with ourselves and nature.
Another important aspect of returning to the garden is cultivating a sense of gratitude and reverence for the natural world (see Plum Village). It's about recognizing the beauty
and interconnectedness of all living beings and expressing gratitude for the abundance that surrounds us. This can be as simple as taking a moment each day to appreciate the beauty of a flower, the sound of birdsong, or the feeling of the earth beneath our feet.
So, as we reflect on the phrase "back to the garden," let's remember that it's not just a physical place but a metaphorical space within ourselves and in the world around us. It invites us to explore and rediscover the profound wisdom and interconnectedness that lies within the natural world and our own being. It involves setting boundaries around technology and information overload, expressing gratitude for nature’s beauty, practicing sustainability, and fostering community.
Let’s all tap into a deeper sense of belonging and a more sustainable and harmonious future for ourselves and generations to come.