Every time I’m outdoors I am overcome with a shock to my system. There is an awakening to all of my organs and senses. I feel my blood streaming within me; a rush of energy to extremities. I am reminded of nature’s beauty and my connection to it. These emotions occur at my slightest exposure to her, even when I walk between my car and a building. I am always aware of the oneness between my soul, my physical body, my thoughts, and the world. Although, when I go for a run, hike, swim, climb with my skin against stone, or swim in the ocean, the emotions are heightened and a deeper connection is developed. My most profound insights into my spiritual connectivity with nature are found on the beach.
Growing up on Pensacola Beach, Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico, I became fascinated with the white quartz crystal sands eroded down from the Appalachian Mountains. If you pick up a handful of this sand, you’ll also find the tiniest baby shells scattered among the quartz granules. This sand is the entry to the water; it’s like the key to my home. This beach is everything to me, my home roots where I grew up playing and where my mother’s ashes were spread the week of my 3rd birthday. It is the birthplace of so much beautiful understanding for me. It is a treasure to witness the multitude of faces the Gulf presents: crystal clear Caribbean teal, smoky storm-trodden azure, solid
emerald-green with white caps. Swimming within these waters, I develop a childlike glee with the awareness of a wise monk. I swim through this world with my eyes wide open. The supple curves of rippled sand beneath me keep me grounded on this universe, but the water makes me feel that I shouldn’t return to dry land. Being enveloped by the warmth of the water and gliding through pockets of coldness are like caresses of ecstasy upon my skin. I feel as though I am in my mother’s womb, enlarged as the womb of the world. As I breach the surface, each millimeter of my skin recognizes the exposure to air.
When the water is at turmoil with the wind, the waves are head high and crashing upon the sand bar. I rush in with the need of a fish out of water. Duck diving beneath each approaching wave, I am transported to my childhood. Even as a 31-year-old woman, the call of a wild thrash of waves beckons my body to glide beneath them. I am overwhelmed with the ability to allow my body to work in unison with something universally larger than myself.
In these moments, when I am surrounded by the beach I feel many things. Sometimes I relish the sun frying my pores or the wind drying the salt against my skin, but always, always, I feel the presence and hug of my mother. Although, I cannot say that I knew her, the beach has allowed me to feel her. In a way, I understand that her absence was the catalyst for my harmony with nature.
I sought a bond that I didn’t have and nature provided.
Nature can hold within it a memory. We can grasp this memory and reflect upon it, adding to it with each new moment. The beach holds this power for me stronger than any other landscape. The history of my life, as minute as a grain of sand, comes rushing back to me as soon as I hit the Bay Bridge and see Pensacola Beach. She is out there and within me. Nature is everywhere and within us.
Do you have a spiritual connection with nature? What site brings it about most and what originally spurred the connection?
XO, The Heart Department
Listening to: Free My Mind by Katie Herzig