Here, centuries later, we might name this the Fundamental Human Mistake. This FHM has separated us from the natural world and empowered our environment destroying behaviors.
That’s pretty heavy. It must be time for a joke.
A man is walking home one night and turns the corner to discover a neighbor on his hands and knees under the streetlight. “What are you doing?” he asks.
“I lost my car keys.”
The friend joins his neighbor in the search. “Where were you exactly, the last time you can remember you had them?” he asks.
“Over there,” comes the reply, as the man points down the street.
“Really? Well, why are you looking way over here?”
His neighbor motions towards the street lamp. “Well, the light’s better here.”
The point? To find something we’ve lost, we are wise to look where we were when we lost it.
Where were we humans when we lost our connection with the natural world? We were in the natural world! Wouldn’t it make sense to return and look there?
You may be reading on a screen right now, so practicing this will require your imagination.
Imagine leaving your modern cave – the screens you watch and the human screen you’ve imagined yourself living inside - and venturing into a forest. You must have walked in a forest some time in your life. Remember what that was like if you can: the way your feet felt on the earth, brushing against branches as you walked, the scent of plants and soil and trees, the whisper of wind on your skin, the singing of birds and insects, the texture of bark as you stroked the trunk of an ancient tree.
Remember the belonging you may have felt, welcomed into a soundless background conversation, joining an inter-species party teeming with unlimited diversity, love in action in the real world, too complex to ever be captured, observed, or experienced on any screen.
Indigenous people were scorned for worshipping the sun. How primitive! They needed saving, to replace their God with ours, a God who lives, not in the natural world but in the light of our minds.
The final lesson in this series offers an utterly simple recommendation: leave your cave. Return to where you were when you lost what you have searched for all your life. Regain your place in the natural world by being in the natural world.
This will be easier for some of you than others. If you live in a city, you’ll have to find a park. They exist near you. But you can also get a house plant. Or ten. Yes, they take tending. So do your children and your pets. Oh, get a pet. And plan your vacation to experience reality, rather than human contrivances that mimic reality.
For instance, try camping, back packing, hiking, swimming in lakes, fishing streams, sleeping under the stars. And when it gets cold, bundle up!
As you begin to consciously increase contact with the natural world, you will feel again the primal belonging of being truly human. At the same time, you will also feel the illumination of spirit, a reconnection with the real God who lives, not in our minds as a human creation, but in the real world as the real world.