The great participate
[dropcap]I [/dropcap]was walking home when a gust of wind suddenly blew up and yellow leaves fell from a roadside tree to lie in a heap below. The leaves looked like fine gold, and they continued to gather. It was autumn announcing her arrival. Later the same evening, the moon rose and hovered over the mountains like a great eye. And even later, the northern lights suddenly appeared in the skies, like dancers waving scarves of green chiffon. The lights always build up from small green lines that are barely visible, and grow bolder and bigger until part of the sky seems to be completely covered with the graceful green-clad dancers. They always reward the vigilant gazer. It is a magnificent sight, and it is not at all surprising that tourists travel very far north just to get a glimpse of this natural phenomenon. So much is happening in the natural world in autumn. Even as plant life recedes, the atmosphere regenerates itself and takes creation to another dimension.I think we should never make the mistake of taking for granted these moments in our everyday lives, which are interrupted by the changes in nature. To come upon a sight like that is such a sacred moment. It is a rare honour to be invited to participate in the life of nature, even as an absorbed bystander. I call it the great participate when moments like that enter our day in its gentle way, and we would be brutes if we didn’t stop whatever we were doing and open the windows and take part in the amazing flow of it all.
Our lives are daily bombarded by technology. And indeed, our lives have been made easier by modern technology. But nothing can replace the wonder that is the natural world. Each event in nature, each season and each change passes and will not repeat itself until a year comes around. That makes it so precious. To think that the natural world is doing the same thing over and over again is to be deceived. They say no snowflake is like another, and I wonder if two leaves are completely identical. If they aren’t, how could the movements of nature be a repeat of the previous year? The very fact that the pattern followed by the natural world, is a pattern of renewal and regeneration means that each moment in nature is new. It has not been done before. How beautiful is that! Take the example of the falling leaf. That leaf is an individual leaf. It may come from the same mother tree as all the other leaves. But that leaf has lived only for the five or six short months of its life, and when it falls to the earth in autumn, that is the first time it is falling. By that logic, everything is new in nature and being renewed every day. Things are wonderfully and fearfully made. We do it an injustice not to appreciate it more, and fail to partake more in its life. The invitation is always there. It is just us who are too busy with our lives or work or jobs that fail to participate.
The great participate is a call to enjoy nature, not with predatory instincts that look to nature as a source of commerce and trade. It is a soliciting of the human spirit to participate in order to be rejuvenated, so he can get his priorities in life straightened out. The greatest gift a teacher can give to students is to lead them back to the life of the earth, to help them connect with the processes of life as found in the natural world and thereby give them this huge grip on reality. It is not just the gravity factor of helping a child find roots, it is the nurturing of his spirit with the things that ultimately matter.