So there I was this morning, stood outside the boat, looking up at the skeletal, wintery trees, to where a speckled woodpecker was clinging on. Behind trees and bird, a vibrant blue sky, and all the colours of everything intensely vivid. It was a moment of long, slow exhale, keenly feeling the beauty and wonder of the natural world, feeling present in the moment and part of the scene I was stood in. This, for me, is what it means to be a nature worshipper.
So what am I worshipping? The sky? Not really. The tree? No, that’s more like a neighbour. The woodpecker? No, he’s more like a casual acquaintance I know well enough to wave to. The colours?
One of the problems with describing yourself as a nature worshipper is that, in some people’s mind this conjures up the image of treating a tree, or a hedge or a field maybe, like it was a God. Which of course makes no sense at all. The tree is a tree. The field is a field. Worshipping them makes no more sense than worshipping my domestic cat, or the bloke in the next boat. The very idea of worship is so loaded with monotheistic connotations that trying to apply it in another context is tricky.
At the same time, I know to the depth of my soul that what I do when I’m standing under the sky, experiencing the bird, the tree, the sunlight… is precisely an act of worship. I’m not worshipping some abstract or unknown mysterious thing imagined behind the tree, bird and sky, either. More the combination. It’s about the coming together of all these different, individual things that are, in order to make something that is bigger than the sum of the parts. It’s the flow, the web, the unity and the way each system is part of a bigger system that I think I’m honouring in these moments. The tree, its roots interacting with fungi in the soil, its bark harbouring insects, the bird that will have non-bird originating bacteria in its gut. It’s the interconnectedness of everything that fills me with wonder. I am part of that, too.