Monday, April 4, 2016

Standing within the Otherness

©2014 Mary-Lynne Monroe

"I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything ~ other people, trees, clouds. And this is what I learned, that the world's otherness is antidote to confusion ~ that standing within this otherness ~ the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books ~ can re-dignify the worst stung heart."
~ Mary Oliver

What a rich and vibrant imagination Mary Oliver has! She writes of the capacity, the ability to stand in the character of another ~ whether that 'other' is human or not. I meditated deeply on this concept, which was a good thing to do. I remembered times when I did perhaps what she writes of, or perhaps something that's only akin to it.

In February of 2014 a friend and I took a short road trip. We arrived late and settled into our room. I woke earlier than she did so I bundled myself up, gathered my camera and gloves, and set out for a walk. The air was clear and crisp with frost covering the shaded bushes. I set a quick pace. Every possible element of nature seen on that walk spoke to me ~ the high blue-shadowed hillsides, the stark trees with their arms askew, the noisy crows. I spoke to them all as I snapped photos. As I was returning to the motel, caws became louder, more insistent and angry. I looked around for the cause of the crow's ire. Sitting in a nearby tree was a beautiful red-tailed hawk. Whispering my gratitude to my beloved crows, I pointed my camera into the branches. The hawk seemed to pause, posing for me, head turning from side to side, body occasionally bouncing forward. I was so engrossed that when the hawk took flight, I could feel my body lighten and lift. Although at that moment, I lost sight of the hawk, I felt the full extension of the wings catching air. Returning to myself, I went inside the motel to prepare for the rest of my day ~ overflowing with joy and gratitude.

Have you had an experience of connection with nature, of 'standing in the character of another'? What was it like? How did you feel afterward? How would you step into nature to find that kind of experience? Are there other authors who have described the kind of experience you had?

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