What does it mean to pray with nature?

IMG_3967It was a magnificent autumn day in Colorado. The mountains in the distance, the valley below, and everything around me appeared vibrant and colorful yet serene. My inner landscape, on the other hand, portrayed a much different picture. I was feeling an unidentifiable nagging unsettledness and resistance, difficult to name but somehow knowing it was about my career path.

When I find myself in times of confusion, I find it helpful to spend time in nature. Taking a walk in the mountains is one of my favorite ways to seek guidance. I invite you to join me on the hike I took that day.

Hoping to receive some insight, I prayed to Spirit: Please help me out of my confusion. Help me be clear. Guide me on the right path.

With that, I set off, observing whatever came up as I walked. The path was steep and winding, and often confusing about where to go. Yet each time I got to a place where I wasn’t sure, the path suddenly became clear and I was able to walk on. Spirit was reassuring me that I am supported and guided every step of the way.

Each time I noticed an animal or plant, I expressed gratitude: to dragonfly, scrub oak, the fire of the sun, beautiful Pacha Mama, the pond with its cool water, the crisp clear air. Offering gratitude opened my heart, allowing me to be receptive to all the gifts that nature provides.

I sent prayers to Owl, Hawk, and Eagle, asking for the gift of their feathers, and any other feathers, that would support my shamanic work. I received the message that traveling to Peru would be a clear statement of my commitment to this path.

Crossing the road, entering into the forest, I reveled in the the coolness, gentleness and sweetness. I noticed some litter, a plastic water bottle wedged under a fallen branch. I wanted to pick it up but there was an emphatic sign: “PLEASE stay on the path.” After hesitating a while, I went off the path anyway, climbed a steep embankment, picked up the bottle, and lovingly poured the water into the Earth. When I returned to the path I received a gift, a feather, half blue half black. What a surprise! What joy! I expressed a prayer of delight and thanks, offering some tobacco back to the Earth in a gesture of reciprocity.

The lesson: you do not need to be afraid of breaking the rules. You do not need to be afraid of getting in trouble. This was a healing moment for me as I was able to deconstruct programming from many years ago that had been holding me back.

I passed two women and two dogs. I felt such happiness sharing our love of nature, such happiness sharing the path. And I continued to walk on.

It isn’t often that I see bright red leaves in this part of the country, but there they were, reminding me that sometimes I need to step it up, stand out from the crowd, show my color, be who I am.

The remainder of the hike, I played a game of “I Spy” with myself. I Spy all the colors of the rainbow, starting with those striking red leaves, then the oranges and yellow-golds of Scrub Oak and Aspen everywhere, the soothing green of Pine, the way in which the sun was hitting the shrubs that had already lost their leaves, casting a shade of indigo, tiny violet flowers here and there…but what about blue?

Blue seemed to be missing…continuing to search and search as I wended  my way home, when suddenly, I had to laugh at myself. How could I miss it? Pacha Tata, Father Sky, a radiant blue enveloping me from above this entire time! And, how could I forget? The beautiful blue feather that I carry with me to this day, a reminder of the incredible gifts that nature provides when we ask for help, pay attention, walk the path with integrity, and offer gratitude.

On that day I received reassurance that I am supported every step of the way, I received encouragement to deepen my commitment to shamanic studies, I received a healing that released me from the fear of punishment, I received a heart-opening that allowed me to experience gratitude, communion, playfulness, and joy. My body felt lighter, my mind was clear, my spirit was uplifted. My inner landscape was back in harmony and balance, just like the beautiful outer landscape on that magnificent autumn day.

Have you ever prayed with nature?