I often turn to the natural world for information about myself. Watching the light shift among the naked branches in winter, I see my own fluctuations. There is nothing good or bad in the way leaves dance in the light, or the stark outlines of branches hold their form reaching into the sky. So too is there nothing good or bad in the way my mind moves. I can watch it in much the same way.
Irises have taught me so much about judgment as I observe their stages and know that each is in its own way exactly as it needs to be and there really is no comparison of one stage to another in beauty or grace. I say iris, but could just as easily say roses. Plants and animals generally all offer this in wildly different ways. The first growth - so intense and exciting poking through the recently frozen earth - promising what might come. The courageous stand of the tender leaves through all the vagaries of early spring weather, the beginnings of that growth that promises lushness, quiet elongation of what will be buds... well, the whole formation and opening of the amazing blooms, one and then another, the browning and curling of the petals, the remarkable remains of what will be the seed pod, and then that ultimately gorgeous pod hardening and protecting and then scattering the seed.
I cherish the brown and green grass, the flying twisting maple seed, the curled darkened leaves among the drooping blooms of peonies. How can the dry and brittle winter mode of a field of brush not zing my heart?
So when my heart is aching, for others who suffer, for my own fears about those I love, for an opportunity lost or an obvious painful set of conditions, I turn to those same natural stages to help me remain open to possibilities. The pain is still there, but gathers hope and options along with it. Roots still deep, air still providing oxygen, sunlight in abundance even on a cloudy day. And then with a deep sense of comfort, I realize that my troubles, my moments, my life itself is transitory like the leaf buds and flowering glories. I feel protected and infinite in that I, myself, am simply a part of the natural cycles as are the birds, lizards, roses, willows and ocean waves.
My bones, my breath, my steps and my aching heart are as natural as the way I smile at the puffed up bird bodies holding their own in the cold.