What, you might ask is an “environmental mystic.” If you were to ask me, I would say: An environmental mystic is a person who communicates with God, the Eternal Mystery, through Nature, who is so deeply loves the beauty of planet Earth that they spend their life in surrender to an inner sense of gratitude for the wonder they behold in the infinite novelty of creation. This love and gratitude one feels brings forth a deep sense of responsibility for taking care of the Earth as a spiritual living trust for all generations—a love guided by the inviolable biophysical principles that, with Divine simplicity and equanimity, govern all of Nature and our place within it. For me, it is an unquenchable need to say “thank you” by leaving this magnificent planet, spinning miraculously in space, a little better for the privilege of having been enveloped throughout my Earthly pilgrimage in Divine beauty beyond words, beyond even the ability of thought to express.
With the foregoing in mind, I find, as I look back over my 75 years, that my life has been choreographed by an inner compulsion, of which Mahatma Gandhi said, “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within.” That “still small voice” has guided the decisions in my life ever since I can remember. When I say guided the decisions, I must admit that, in my youth, I did not always listen to it—and I reaped the consequences of turning a deaf ear or a blind eye to the spiritual path along which my inner voice attempted to guide me. It is as though I was made blind to the future through my mistakes that I might learn to trust.
For me, as a child, it was the Divine orchestration of circumstances that helped to structure my life by blessing me with a place to feel safe. That place was a humble, roadside ditch in which I have found the wonders of the Universe. And it is the gift of wonder—the Divine endowment of everyday life—that guides that a mystic’s journey. As Mother Theresa said: “Life is a promise. Fulfill it.”
To me, as a little boy, the ditch was a marvelous and wondrous thing, and it had only one purpose, to be my playground. I loved the ditch and all its mysteries. It was my own, private place in the world and that was sufficient unto itself.
The ditch was a place of innocence and wonder; a place of mystery and of boyhood imaginings; a place to touch the Earth, the water, and the sky. It was a place where the green arms of cattails; sedges; and rushes; and the tall, swaying grasses enfolded me, hid me, and bade me stay while I learned the songs of the seasons.
It was a place where the water spoke quietly of the harmonious cycles of life, where grasshoppers and crickets trilled, and gray-tailed meadow mice scurried along their secret runways. It was a place where wandering breezes carried the perfumes of flowers and the melodies of birds, where gaily-colored butterflies dotted magical afternoons and dragonflies rested in the sun. It was a place brimming with life, where red-winged black birds nested; a place where the harmonious cycles of the sun, moon, and stars guided a constant becoming as life flowed through death into life and the seasons melted one into another. And, it was the place where I learned about unconditional love from my friend, Billy Savage, who shared the ditch with me from the ages of 6 to 12, when his life tragically ended.
But most of all, it was the place where I first began to understand that the smallest piece of anything was still a part of the whole and that to understand the whole, I must value the pieces. I not only began to see the eternal flow between the pieces and the whole but also I began the long, slow process of being born unto myself in the greater context of the Universe as one of Nature’s pieces reflected in the spiritual and biophysical perfection of that infinitesimal spot on Earth that Billy and I called “our ditch.”
It was here that I was simply open to the mysteries of the Universe, and they were revealed to me in all their splendor. Here, within the banks of a humble, roadside ditch, I saw the crowning jewel of the Universe unfold. I saw the indivisibility of life and death and change. I saw Creation, and I not only found but also embraced the Eternal Mystery. It was here that my mystical journey began, oh, so long ago.
Text and Photos © by Chris Maser 2013. All rights reserved.