I‘m attracted to comfort. There’s a magnetic pull towards comfort that’s so pervasive I’m hardly aware of its influence. What I’m discovering, however, is that my peak life experiences are never found squarely in comfort. They aren’t found in discomfort either. Rather, my peak experiences are found somewhere balanced on the edge. Peak experiences are those times that excite me and scare the heck out of me. It’s something I want to experience, but I’m anxious or scared – not sure I’m up to the challenge or discomfort. It’s usually something I’m excited about and boldly say, “Heck yes! I’m all in.” And then days or weeks later wonder, “What was I thinking? Why did I agree to this? Am I really going to do this?”
At sunset, there is a clarity of the air that transports me from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Warm light spills across the landscape, a web of spun gold that captures my heart. The liminal time between day and night hangs suspended in the gauzy light. In this magical space, we can find ourselves. We can feel our essence, pure and clear, free of the distortions of our daily living.
The first time I met Raven, up close and personal, was when I was a young woman working in the Rocky Mountains. I had often seen the birds floating on the wind, high above me or heard their calls, but I had never looked a Raven in the eye. I came upon her as I was walking in a meadow. She was striding through the tall grass, just a few feet from me. I thought she might fly away or be frightened by my appearance, but no, she stood her ground and observed me. She had such strength and presence, in truth, I was the one who felt intimidated! This bird was huge! She came up to my knee and looked at me with such intensity; it was as though she could see right through me. From that day on I felt a special connection with Raven. I read all about them and would watch for them. They are amazing creatures with a keen intelligence. They have many vocalizations and can problem solve and use tools. They build alliances with other species and will work together to achieve their goals. They are very family oriented and form strong pair bonds. Ravens are playful and love to fly as demonstrated by their aerial displays.
The forest has a wild abundance of life and possibility. It holds all emotions: peace and joy and fear. The unknown and the unknowable are here. There is an intersection of the visible and invisible. I see the trees and know that I am only encountering a small part of the Being that is the tree. When you look at the forest, the forest looks back at you. The woods teem with animals, yet they are elusive and hidden. I know that bears, cougars, and wolves all live in this realm. Although we do not encounter them face to face, we can sense them on the periphery of our vision, dancing in the shadows. The soul is like that, shy and elusive, camouflaged by our roles and responsibilities. The forest beckons hidden aspects of our Being to come forward, offering us a glimpse of an unrealized truth, opening our hearts to a new understanding of ourselves.
Nature is the vastness that exhilarates and frightens us. We sense that there is so much more than meets the eye – a mystery so fathomless we hide from it, fearing for the safety of body and soul. We dominate and control that which we do not understand. We strip Nature of her resources, use her up even as she gives and gives, dominate her by “right,” take without thought or thanks, lost in the delusion that we are different, separate from her, better than her. It is time we wake to the Dream! We are part of Nature. Her breath is our breath; her pain is our pain. Our Spirits flow together down hidden paths, gossamer strands of energy link us one to another. The deer and the bear are my brothers. Water is my life’s blood. I am the hawk, and the hawk is me. All That Is reflects my soul back to me in a myriad of ways.
The world is always speaking to you if you choose to listen deeply. The Universe is offering us signs and messages. It is those special moments, when we are captured by the wash of colour in the sky, by the chatter of the birds in our backyard, or by a feather floating to the ground at our feet. It is when an animal shows up in your life in an unexpected way. Perhaps a Pine Marten crosses your path, or you see an image of the same animal multiple times over a short period, or you may see an animal behaving in an unusual way. It is these moments that carry the magic and the message, information that can guide us on our road and open new paths of awareness.
There is a Wild Self within us; it is that part of us that longs to live close to Nature – to be one with the land, to walk barefoot on the grass, to feel the suns' warmth on our skin. This is our birthright. It is not something to be learned or acquired. It is our heritage – an instinctive and intuitive wisdom that lives within us. Our ancestors knew this. They were taught the ways of the animals, the rhythm of the Seasons, the gifts of the plants and trees, and their place in the Web of Life.
Severn is an activist and writer who has been speaking out about social justice and environmental issues since she was small. At age 9, she started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO) with a group of friends committed to learning and teaching others about environmental issues.