“Feel the tree. Feel yourself reaching inside, touching its spirit, its life force. Do you feel it?”
Wendy was silent for a moment, concentrating on the tree, trying to feel what Gideon felt. After a few minutes, she stepped back and let her hands fall to her side. “I don’t feel anything,” she said. “It’s just a tree.”
“No, Wendy!” He grabbed her hands again, a little too roughly, and placed them back on the tree. “You must feel it. Feel its heart, feel its spirit flowing through her lifeblood.”
“Stop, Gideon, you’re hurting me!” Wendy wrestled her hands away from his, away from the grandmother sycamore. “I know you can feel things that aren’t there, like the spirit of a tree. But I don’t. I can’t. I’m not you. I’m not Indian.”
~ from The Storyteller’s Bracelet
I find there are two kinds of people: those who believe it is possible to talk and listen to trees, rocks, animals, and rivers, and those who do not. There may be others who are ambivalent about the matter, but I haven’t met any.
Talking to all of creation, to nature, in this way stirs powerful emotions in people. I’ve been called crazy, eccentric, and out of touch with reality for believing I can communicate in this way. I’ve also been looked at with awe and wonder, and with respect, by people who wish they knew how to do what I can do.
I didn’t learn to do this overnight. And quite frankly, I’m not sure but what getting struck by lightning 23 years ago didn’t give my abilities a power boost. Let me tell a story of something that happened to me about 12 years ago, in my beloved Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I grew up camping in the Smokies, but when I hit adulthood, life got in the way. After about the age of 10, I didn’t return to the Smokies until about 15 years ago. When I returned, I felt as if I’d found a lost part of my soul again.
One trip I took, I went with my son Steven, who was 15 at the time, just the two of us. We were sitting on some rocks by the Oconaluftee River, just outside the boundaries of the National Park, enjoying a picnic lunch. There was one particularly lovely rock in the water that drew my attention, and I lusted after it. I told Steve how beautiful I thought the rock would be next to our backyard pond at home.
Steve offered to put the rock in our car to take home. Being outside the park boundaries, we wouldn’t have been breaking any laws of man by doing so. I agreed.
But the minute he picked up that rock, I heard an agonized scream of pain. I felt it; it shook me to my core. I felt the physical pain I knew was emanating from the rock.
Don’t take me. Please, don’t take me. I felt, rather than actually heard, the words. But they were definitely coming from the rock.
“Put it back,” I said to Steve. “It doesn’t want to go.” He gently set the stone back in its place, and immediately I felt a cool rush, as if I myself had been submerged in the chill waters. I felt gratitude from the stone. Then, it fell silent. The pain I felt vanished.
Ever since that experience, I’ve changed my approach with all of Creation. While I have always had a deep connection to the Earth, I now walk in nature keeping not only my eyes and ears open to the sounds of the forest, the desert, the ocean—wherever I am—but also keeping my sixth sense, my intuition, open and alert. I hear the rocks, trees, rivers, and creatures speak because I’m open to hearing them speak.
This, I believe, is why people fail when they, like Wendy in the excerpt above, try to listen. Wendy’s upbringing was very “civilized,” very “proper.” It would never have dawned on her that she was a part of nature, until Gideon tried to teach her she was. And because she was so shut off-to that idea, she could not hear when she tried to listen to the tree. “I know you can feel things that aren’t there, like the spirit of a tree,” she said to Gideon.
But Gideon knew the spirit of the tree was there. He knew he was part of nature, and talking to the trees came as naturally to him as talking to Wendy herself. For him, it was the norm, not some supernatural talent he had.
You have to connect with nature to truly hear nature. To do that, try to spend at least some time each day outdoors, in a place of natural beauty. Take off your shoes and feel the earth under your feet. Lie on the grass and close your eyes, and feel the earth’s rotation. Lay hands on a tree, and just pay attention to what you feel in doing so. Take regular hikes. Go camping!
When you come across a tree, or a rock, or a stream that particularly moves you, talk to it! You may not hear it speak back to you, but rest assured, it is. There is a reason that tree, that rock, moved you to begin with. Talk to the birds you see on your morning walk; speak to the squirrels.
And one day, if you listen, really listen, you just might hear a whisper back.
* ~ *
You can read more about Gideon (Otter), Wendy, and Sun Song in my novel, The Storyteller’s Bracelet. Please take the time to check out all my books at the link above, as well as further explore my Website. If you enjoyed this blog, I invite you to subscribe by email via the link on the right. If you’re on Facebook, you can like my author page by clicking that link; if you’re on Twitter, you can follow me by clicking the Twitter link. I follow back.