You do not need to believe in a traditional God to discover support and strength from a benevolent something greater than yourself, writes Julia Cameron.
Forging a connection with nature can be a shortcut to an increased conscious contact with your higher power. For me, a starry night with moonrise over the mountains leads me to exclaim, “I love you!” Nature seems to exclaim right back. “I love you, too.” Wild roses alongside a country road, sunflowers and hollyhocks blooming by a wooden fence, tiny violets garlanding a tree trunk – each detail of creation inspires my own creations. The pink froth of a cherry tree, the glistening green of a willow, and the gorgeous gold of an aspen catching fire remind me that each day, as I strive to connect to the world, I am gifted with great bounty. The world is beautiful, and we are intended to love its many delights.
Helen had a long and successful career as an accountant. She advised many high-powered businesspeople. When she retired, she found she missed the stress-filled days as a problem solver. To fill her time, she began a practice of daily walking. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed to herself as she spotted a great blue heron. “How beautiful,” she breathed, seeing a red-winged blackbird. She walked a couple of kilometres into the village. It was a distance she had often whizzed past in the car. But now, walking, she cherished the beauty that was there for the looking. A month into her daily walks, she bought herself a pair of high-powered binoculars. She began scanning her surroundings as she walked. She spotted the blue heron's nest and she spotted some mallards, busy in the rushes. In her morning journalling, she catalogued the beauty she found in the natural world. “All this beauty was always around me,” she told me. “Now I have time to notice it.”
The more Helen walked, the more she yearned for more time in nature. She began a practice of taking small adventures – a trip to the ski valley before the snow when the trees were in autumn foliage, a drive up to the mountains to revel in the flowers, another drive alongside a river. These expeditions filled her heart. “I saw a hawk yesterday,” Helen told me with wonder. “It was riding the thermals, and just spotting it, I felt my own spirit soar. Last week I drove north to the junction of two rivers. Even from my car, I could see the power of the current. It gave me the resolution to write a blog. My forays into nature give me something to share.”
When we connect with nature, we have something to share. When we connect with nature, we forge further connections, to those around us, to our higher self, to our past and our future. Our world expands.
The late, great mythologist and teacher Joseph Campbell advised his students to “follow their bliss.” He told them to expect synchronicity, which he defined as “helping hands.” “Follow your bliss,” he taught, “and the universe will open doors for you.” An octogenarian when he became famed as a teacher, he had decades of teaching experience with which to back up his theories. Over and over again, he had seen doors swing open. His life had taught him to be a firm believer in the advice offered to us by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it. Because action has magic, grace, and power in it.” Another quote comes to mind, this from the Scottish explorer Joseph Murray: “There is one elemental fact, the ignorance of which has scuttled many a grand design. That is this: when you are committed, the universe moves, too.”
When we write our Morning Pages in a journal, we are contacting the universe. We are telling a benevolent something our precise needs, goals, and desires. It is as if we are in a life raft, bobbing in the sea. When we write our pages we send out a signal that tells our precise location and allows us to be rescued. Within a short period of time after we contact the universe, the universe contacts us back. We begin to have the experience of synchronicity. We find ourselves increasingly in the right time and place for our wishes to be fulfilled. When I teach and I explain to my students the concept of synchronicity, they may at first protest that such a concept seems too good to be true. Not wanting to be gullible, they exclaim, “Julia! Do you really believe the universe opens doors for us?” I tell them yes, and I ask them not to believe me, but to keep track themselves of the instances of synchronicity they now encounter.
How about you? How many days did you write Morning Pages in your journal this week? What did you find that you would like to explore more fully? Did you talk nature walks this week? What did you notice along the way? What “ahas” did you discover this week? Did you experience any synchronicity this week? What was it? Did it give you a sense of humility, a sense of being somehow guided by a higher power?
Extracted from The Artist’s Way for Retirement by Julia Cameron (www.hayhouse.com.au, $29.99).