I was cycling home this afternoon when I suddenly saw a huge rainbow, shining over the houses. After I had been watching for a while, it started raining and I quickly got on my bike again. The trees along the street had adorned the gray tarmac with bright yellow leaves. The sun shone on it, and the color and brightness outside reminded me of a song by Elly and Rikkert: “People build houses of white, black and gray … but around the throne of God, there are rainbows.”
During the past few weeks, I have mainly lived inside, even inside my computer screen. The move back to the Netherlands and our trip to Chile means that we have to arrange a lot, and I can get quite overwhelmed by that. When I look out of the window, it seems as if nature is letting us down this season. It gets dark early, you cannot go out without a coat and the grass is too wet to sit on. But of course thoughts like these tell more about my state of mind than about the situation outside.
This morning we were in a Dutch outdoor store. While we were fitting shoes, a man came in who had worn out his quality boots within 2 years. Awkwardly walking about in the first pair of hiking boots I had ever put on, I felt more than ever an ‘inside person’. Until a slogan in the shop caught my eye: “No one is an inside person.” When I think about it, it’s not just a good commercial slogan but also a true statement. Once we make the decision to put on our coats and pay attention to the trees and mushrooms, or just feel the fresh breeze on our face, we know again that we are outdoor persons.
Cycling underneath the rainbow I felt welcomed by the trees, the sun and the gentle rain. They invited me to stay out longer. And yet, here I am inside again, typing this blog. There are so many things that I ‘have to’ do, pulling me inside, inside the house and inside myself. Fortunately, nature is patient and I can be sure that I’m still welcome when I step outside tomorrow.
If we cannot gauge the effect our attentions have on the other-than-human world, if we cannot measure the value to bison or frogs, owls or grass, perhaps we might notice how we ourselves are opened, at least for a moment. How we, for those attentive minutes or seconds or hours, are not the same isolated being.
Geneen Marie Haugen, in ‘Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth’