What is it about nature that makes us to feel more spiritual? Is it the escape from the energies of people, the calm silence that brings freedom? Or is it the connection to our higher selves, beyond the mind and physical body?
Many ancient cultures and religions revered nature as part of their spiritual makeup and even viewed it as a deity unto itself. Man’s knowledge of himself was often derived from his understanding of the universe. This formed the basis for a healthy relationship to the earth. Nowadays we are defined by our work, accumulation of wealth, and how best to fill time with iPhones and TV.
My most recent trip to Colorado was spiritual in that it made me feel alive. As in many unplanned travels, I arrived at the places I needed at the perfect time in my life. I hiked through Cave of the Winds, amazed at the rock and crystal formations that defy the laws of gravity by growing in many directions. The 500-million-year- old formation was an underground splendor, a reminder of the brief time I have on earth.
The next part of my trek was a visit to the Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado. Parts of the Great Sand Dunes are barren and eerie, with a sense of otherworldliness. Deserts are places normally ill-suited for humans unprepared to deal with their extreme geological conditions. They lack water, vegetation is sparse, and very few creatures thrive. Our deserts can be literal or metaphorical, but in the Bible we learn they can be the very places where God finally finds us and calls us back to life.
Some of the greatest spiritual places in the world are located at high elevations. This often brings our life back into perspective. The last hike was a challenging trek to the top of an amazing outlook. Its centerpiece was the Buddhist Great Stupa of Dharmakaya. Aside from its visual grandeur, the 107-foot structure was built to promote peace, wisdom and harmony and to awaken compassion.
All of these sacred places helped bring me back to spiritual tranquility. If you can learn to appreciate isolation and silence, you’ll eventually understand that it is the mind’s interconnection with nature that invigorates the heart and spirit.