An Unexpected Love Story & Three Love Poems from the Earth
Published in Elephant Journal, February 2018.
If you love it enough, anything will talk with you.
—George Washington Carver
After years of looking, it finally happened—I found true love, and it was deeper, sweeter, and simpler than anything I had known before. I wasn’t on match.com, in a bar, or at a party. I found it when I wasn’t even looking, and in an unexpected way—by going out “alone” into nature.
I didn’t fall in love with a handsome stranger I met on a wooded trail, at least not in the conventional sense. The love I found was less personal, more primal, and deliciously sensuous. I fell in love with trees and streams, mosses and flowers, chickadees and coyotes, with the sound of leaves whispering in the wind. I fell in love with the vast, glorious beauty and mystery of the living world—and while our relationship was by no means exclusive, it was profoundly satisfying.
Until then, I had been good friends with nature, and enjoyed many happy hours hiking, swimming, kayaking, and camping in wild places. Still, I had no idea how much more intimate and nourishing my relationship with the natural world could be—until a life-changing transition led me to approach it in a different way.
In 2010, after many years of activist work, I knew it was time to find a new path to service, and that I needed to connect with greater wisdom to discover my true calling. I sensed I could find what I was seeking in nature, but that I needed to shift my orientation to do that.
Instead of going out with friends and hiking at a steady clip, I was drawn to go solo, to move slowly, to be quiet and receptive. I still loved hiking, but now I also loved to settle into one place and listen. I would sit by a creek and watch the water flow, or lean into a tree and gaze up through the branches, falling under nature’s spell. I practiced opening myself to whatever thoughts or feelings wanted to come.
In this way, I received many beautiful and surprising gifts: direct experiences of profound peace and unconditional love, a sense of coming home to my true self, and a communion with something much greater than myself. And I heard a clear, powerful answer to my quest for a new calling: to invite people into a more mindful and intimate connection with the natural world.
I also received a large body of creative work to support that calling—workshops, articles, practices, and most surprising to me, poems—hundreds of them. Although I loved reading poetry, I hadn’t written it as an adult or even aspired to do so. Still, by immersing myself in nature and listening for what wanted to come, I had inadvertently created a large, poem-sized opening—and the poems flowed through it abundantly.
Poetry and nature are now two of the greatest loves of my life, and they give me so much. Time and again, they help me to see the peace and beauty of the living world more clearly; to recognize that all beings can be my friends and allies; and to remember that I am never truly alone or without love. My hope is that this these poems will remind you of your innate kinship with all life, inspire you to deepen that connection, and spark more unexpected love stories.
View the full piece, including the love poems, in Elephant Journal.