|Cottonwood leaves - hearts in nature. Lainey Piland photo|
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature - the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter."
- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
After last week, I know there are plenty of us feeling down and perhaps a bit hopeless. We might seek healing in venting our feelings, in prayer, in spending time with loved ones, in exercising. I think I've tried all of the above, but my first instinct was to get out of here. To run to the mountains, to sit in the forest and breathe deep lungfuls of that fresh, rain-washed air. There's something about the peace of the outdoors that brings a soothing clarity to the world around us. We know that regardless of what happens in our human societies, the sun will still rise tomorrow.
One of those familiar "repeated refrains" in nature is the waning amount of daylight as the winter solstice approaches. There is more darkness than light as shadows stretch long across the landscape all day long, the sunlight feeling like it never quite gains full strength. I love the film below from Nature 365. With some scenes shot in time-lapse, the film emphasizes the shortness of late autumn days, but manages to capture all the depth and beauty of them, however brief it may be.
This planet is our common experience with every other person. No matter the differing lives or beliefs, we can find shared memories and bridge divisions among us in the familiarity of sunshine sifting through trees and raindrops glittering on leaves. That is something that anyone can appreciate. Perhaps that can be our starting point.