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CONVERSATIONS WITH NATURE Spending time in Nature is precious. When we take the time to settle the busy-ness of our mind, we can hear its gentle promptings;


it speaks to us in a language we are slowly losing touch with. It is time to rekindle our connection with our natural self. To many of us this may seem strange, but Nature offers guidance, at times gentle, other times disturbing. A wise person once asked, “How does one approach a tree?”


by JulianNoel


SOMEWHERE IN A FOREST there is a tree, majestic, towering, ancient and solid, its canopy etched into the blue sky, protecting, shading and sheltering, its branches nesting places, its leaves continually offered to the floor of the forest. Recently, I stood before such a tree. It


was a humbling moment. Awestruck, and pondering, ‘How does


one approach a tree’, I could not tell if I was thinking, or the tree was thinking me. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. The tree, named Tane Mahuta, Lord of


the Forest, stands in the far north of New Zealand. A sign at its base proclaims, “Tane Mahuta stands 51.8 metres tall, is 18.5 metres round and is over 2,000 years old.” This silent sentinel is surrounded by a forest of Kauri, Rimu, and Kowhai; the


8 march 2014


air is musty, moist and earthy, redolent with an ancient atavistic presence. The atmosphere is hushed, cathedral-like, occasionally pierced by birdcalls shrill, sweet and sharp. How does one approach such a tree? At times it seems strange to me that I


am a part of Nature. A citified lifestyle conspires to have me apart from Nature: more traffic than tree. Time in Nature is a rare gift. I yearn


for union with the deep intelligence at the heart of life, which is so obvious in Nature. But it ain’t easy. Life is too often dominated by the need to look good, pay bills and go nowhere; spiritual yearnings all too often an inconvenient accessory. Yet life is fuelled by the presence of an intelligence deeper than book learning


and schooling. How do I balance this with a worldly existence? Standing before the Lord of the Forest,


I am at a loss. “How do I approach you?’’ Nature leaves clues. I sit, drinking in the majesty, power and


presence, marvelling at its silent bearing, and all the while feeling a quiet calm growing within, a soft, silky peace gently smoothing the sharpness of my thoughts. My mind settles, refreshed. New


thoughts arise within. A form 2000 years in the making stands


before me, accompanied by my inner commentary, “Christ, that is a long time. Men and women of power and passion have walked the stage of history, great wars have been won and lost, the world ravaged by disease; plague and famine


Photo: Tane Mahuta by Andy King


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