Spirit has many faces. And yet, with all of this diversity, everything is united; each unique expression connected to and reflected by another. It’s been over a year since I soaked in the magic of the Hoh Rainforest with my mentor and guide, Llyn Roberts. I still feel the imprint of the Hoh in my heart—the antlers of the elk, the glistening trail of the banana slug, the playful splash of the otter. My journeys and dreams often transport me back to the Hoh—moving through time and across distance—where I feel her embrace and marvel at her magnificence once again.
In the weeks before my trip, I heard a chorus of words resounding within my soul: mother, lover, self, and other. Even though I knew there was significance to receiving this message, it wasn’t until my time in the rainforest that I understood why. The Hoh revealed that these words offer me new ways of relating to the natural world.
Nature is our mother—a nurturer who sustains us and a teacher who reveals the truth of reality on Earth. She challenges us to hold many seemingly opposing forces like birth and death, destruction and restoration, and intensity and gentleness. It all belongs and has a place in the circle of life. Mother is also a verb. It’s a way of relating and being with all of life—holding everything in a communal embrace with acceptance, inclusion, and wholeness. Her feminine energy is mysterious, spontaneous, and eternally creative.
Nature is also our lover. She longs for an intimate relationship with all of life. In the depths of our soul, we too long for a love affair with the natural world. Our heart takes flights when we open to the profound connection with a beloved. Nature is a beloved for us. Union with her is ecstatic and saturates us to our very core. Every part of us is caressed by her love. She endlessly flexes, flows, and flourishes within and around us. When we reciprocate this love, she absorbs us, and we taste bliss.
I am self. I am also other. I am an autonomous being with my own feelings, ideas, and history. I have my own journey with its unique twists and turns. And you have yours. And yet, I am also connected to everything and everyone around me. This is one of the many paradoxes woven into the human experience. Ultimately, otherness is an illusion. I am one with the wind, the blade of grass, and the stranger. The Hoh has shown me that self and other blend into each other, illuminating the flow of Spirit that spirals in, around, and through everything.
How has nature expressed herself to you? How do you relate to her many faces? How do you see yourself as other and other as you? What new meaning or fresh insights has nature offered you? I invite your heart to explore these questions and see where they take you. My exploration often takes me back into the Hoh where I found myself as other and nature as my mother and my lover.
From my heart to yours,
Christopher T. Franza
Board of Directors, OMEC