Our best teacher

The world around us, the world of nature is our best teacher. One has only to sit quietly in a garden in spring, in the early hours, to become aware of an intricate trajectory of invisible lines criss-crossing the garden as birds flit and whirr about their tasks, never colliding. We, too, are birds of passage and yet we are a part of the whole. We move through time, yet eternity is all about us. St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote:

What I know of the divine sciences and holy scripture, I learnt in the woods and fields. I have had no other masters than the beeches and the oaks. You will learn more in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you more than you can acquire from the mouth of a teacher.

Which also is why, whenever we can, it is good to meditate out of doors, in a garden or a park, aware of all life around us learning, in the words of William Blake, to ‘see a world in a grain of sand and eternity in an hour’.   


10 thoughts on “Our best teacher”

  1. Dear James, thank you for the beauty and truth in all you write and share with the world. When one contemplates but a tiny patch of garden, awe and wonder inevitably leave one with a great sense of humility. Meanwhile, in such unnerving times your website reflections provide a golden thread of comfort and blessing (not forgetting challenge!). With love and gratitude, Griselda

  2. James,
    my thoughts exactly, I have a spotted flycatcher nesting outside the back door, (on the red list) and a host of Robins, Tits, Blackbirds, Sparrows, Martins, Thrushes, Jackdaws, Pigeons, in the hedges, trees, nooks and crannies, in a continuous murmur of activity as they busily breed their broods. Heaven on Earth in my garden. All the best Brian.
    Oh not to mention a tame duck, my hens and geese busy in the orchard and paddock, rural bliss B

  3. Yesterday I sat on my balcony quietly enjoying a glorious sunset; a flock of swifts were darting high above catching a final meal for the day and as the sun dipped below the horizon a pair of bats flew by heading west towards Brent Cross! The sights and sounds of our surrounding gardens has been a comforting solace during lockdown.

  4. Yes indeed! Thank you James, and a wonderful book I am reading called Soulful Nature by Brian Draper & Howard Green confirm this beautifully. Liz

  5. This spring and early summer, now, despite the tragedy of Covid 19, has been an opportunity for many to realise and ponder a different pace of life, and the sheer wonder of nature. It has given the possibility of changing some of humanity’s deeply damaging priorities and caring for it better by . Perhaps it will encourage us to do just that. Once again, thank you James! what you say is so true.
    With Love,

    1. I do so agree with Elizabeth. Your writings are great inspiration and comfort to me.
      Please keep writing.

  6. I do so agree with Elizabeth.
    Your books are a great source of inspiration for me.
    Please keep writing .

  7. Thank you, James.
    Your lovely phrase ‘We move through time, yet eternity is all about us’ reminds of me an aphorism from Elizabeth Mills’ delightful book ‘The Beauty of Stillness’:
    Stillness is Eternity
    breaking into
    our every day

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