When I see or hear of generosity and self-sacrifice and compassion offered, I am moved and reminded of some people’s remaining readiness to care. I will never be so reclusive as not to recognize the ultimate goodness of these acts. I continue—and assume I always will until too decrepit—to camp as much as possible. I do this because of the pleasure it gives me, and of the solitude, which I use for reading, writing, and contemplation, and of the sense that the more I am out in Nature the deeper I will go into unity. Thirty or so years ago when I discovered the mystics and read a lot by and about them, I was immediately drawn in their direction. Even if my own experience of unity was still rudimentary, I knew they represented the truth of humans’ highest good, our highest realization. Even though they were mostly Christian and ranged over hundreds of years of religious history and used language and concepts that didn’t fit for me, I could sense the heart of their experience and it felt available even to me, albeit with Nature as the focus and vehicle rather than God. And since I also read Sufis, Hindus, and Buddhists, I was able to fashion, or interpret, my unitive experiences in terms that didn’t rely on doctrine or particular religions. It was when I left Galveston in 1988 and went west to the Sierra Nevada and desert regions to write my dissertation that I immersed in Nature more fully than before. That direct experience of what quickly became beloved landscapes combined with what I found others saying about similar experiences took me to new consciousness that has remained with me. I’ve never gone as deep as I wished or knew was possible owing to the limitations of my way of being, my defenses and intellectuality, but it’s been enough to feed my spirit and hold me. It has also been a large part of the peace I feel at 75 when death is closer, which will be the time of true and final re-union.


Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash

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