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Excerpted from The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore. Copyright © 1996 by Thomas Moore. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Spiritually, nature directs our attention toward eternity."

Thomas Moore, Re-Enchantment, part 3

What is required is simple proximity, contemplation, ritual, and a spirit of piety. If we can allow ourselves to be stunned by nature's beauty, complexity, simplicity, devastating power, vast dimensions, and unexpected quirkiness, then lessons in spirituality will pour into us without effort on our part. But it isnít easy to be so naive and open in an age of scientific sophistication. We want to harness nature and not be directed by it, study it and not learn from it, get it under firm control and not let it have influence over us.

Nature is not only a source of spirit; it also has soul. Spiritually, nature directs our attention toward eternity, but at the same time it contains us and creates an intimacy with our own personal lives that nurtures the soul. The individuality of a tree or rock or pool of water is another sign of nature's soul. These intriguing natural beings not only point outward toward infinity; more intimately, they also befriend us. It's easy to love groves of trees or mountain ridges, to feel related to them as though by blood, and to be secure in their familial protection.

One of the great challenges we face as we develop technology and expand scientific knowledge is to preserve nature as a source of spirituality. Recent history has proven how easy it is to lose an appreciation for the sanctity of nature and to get so caught up in the material dimensions of our science that we fall deeper into materialism and lose touch with spiritual values. Then we not only destroy nature out of the shallowness of our appreciation but also lose nature's gift of spiritual sensitivity.

Too Busy for Nature

When I fly around the country, I usually leave from Bradley Field in Hartford, Connecticut. One day, as the shuttle bus approached the airport, the driver pointed to a grassy patch between the high-way and the terminal, where a groundhog had made a home, and as we drove by we saw him sitting in the middle of the field, sunning himself Behind him were the massive engines of the airliners and the typical busyness of the airport, and the odd combination appeared to me as a visual oxymoron, a woodchuck and an airliner sharing the same world.

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