Back To Mother Earth

As usual, it came without warning, this day that had suddenly turned magical. Or, as Dr. Seuss once wrote, “It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” But unlike the Grinch, I didn’t “puzzle and puzzle ’til my puzzler was sore,” but rather simply understood that I had stumbled into Nature’s Grace, a place of ultimate peace, much like being, as a child, in the arms of my mother.

A good day, perhaps a somewhat special day, rafting down the Yellowstone river, just north of Gardiner, Montana, with 3 dear lady friends. It was, indeed, a most beautiful sunny summer day. The water was sparkling, and we saw trout swim past us every so often. The Absaroka-Beartooth mountain range rose skyward in the distance, reminding us that yes, we really were in Southwest Montana, and there was no other place quite like it in this world.

Around 1 p.m. we paddled over to the bank to get out and eat our lunch. Then two of the women decided to paint a bit of what we were seeing there. The other settled under a nearby tree. I began to slowly explore the large, open field that stretched to the hills maybe a half mile to our west.

The sun was warm, there was barely the whiff of a breeze that rustled the tall grasses I was walking through. Yes, a special day for sure, but not so special I would remember it for the rest of my life, and even write about it. That is, not until I came across that patch of matted grass in the middle of that field.

I stopped at the edge of the patch, thinking that an animal had bee there recently. A deer? Too big for a deer, but an elk… yes, that was it. An elk had recently bedded down here, here in this big Montana field of grass!

It looked inviting in a strange way, so I stepped into it, then sat down in it for a minute. It was softer than it appeared, and I decided to lie down in it for a moment, and pretend to be that elk.

It felt good, comfortable, an amazingly natural place for me to be, and while lying there in the noonday sun, smelling the tall grass, imagining being that elk, I drifted off to sleep.

When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was, and I was barely breathing. The sun had moved a bit, and I got up, finally remembering where I was, and why. I felt so totally relaxed, and look down one last time at the patch of grass where the elk and I had slept. Quite possibly no one else would ever see this little place, no one else would ever know that two very different animals both rested in this peaceful haven of a grassy field next to the Yellowstone River. That place, and that nap somehow connected me to the earth, and Nature itself, in a new and different way. I had become, somehow, a part of it… a natural part, and it was a feeling of freedom, of being, of silent knowing that I never had before.

Actually Calvin, Nature is incredibly nourishing, seemingly designed as much for human survival as it is for human destruction. Funny, isn’t it? We get to choose, mostly.

The Peace Of Wild Things

Wendell Berry

When in despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come in the presence of still water,
and I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Later I figure that I must have slept around 45 minutes, for the ladies asked me where I’d been for so long. I told them I had taken a short nap in an elk patch, and that was that. We rafted on down the river to our take-out point, and a special day had, somehow, become a lifelong memory in the process.

And I was different from that moment on… not to my friends, but to me, inside me. I now knew something better, deeper, of the truth of our being here on earth, though I would’t even begin to try explaining it. Suffice to say that if the elk can’t explain its freedom, its feeling of abiding content, then neither can I. But I do know this – I became, and have been to this day, deeper, quieter, stronger than I ever was before that day, that day I lay down in that patch of mountain grass, like the elk.

Steve Hulse

At the end of that day –

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