To be drawn to observe and write about nature is not a withdrawal from the world, but a coming to know the divinity in all matter. ~ Clare Cooper Marcus
Recently I finished reading an extraordinary book: Iona Dreaming: The Healing Power of Place. I found it while searching Google for spiritual travel guides for Scotland. The author, Claire Cooper Marcus, writes about the six months she spent on a tiny island in Scotland named Iona. This island at the edge of the world helped her heal during two bouts with cancer and taught her invaluable lessons about place, relationship, and love.
As I read the book I was stunned over and over again by parallels between my life and hers. Her first introduction to Scotland (as will be mine in a few short months) was Findhorn. She believes in the power of place and spent her career teaching and writing about it. Dreams play an important role in her life and during her time on Iona she called her dreamworker weekly to discuss her dreams. Synchronicity plays a role: the book relates many incidents of waking and dream life mirroring one another, of chance encounters, of nature reflecting her emotions. She is interested in Celtic spirituality, she talks to fairies, she struggles with ego-ambition. I found in her a kindred soul.
How could I not, when she writes things like this: Dreams are "the compost of the psyche, a rich medium promoting our future growth."
And: "What the world needs now is not just environmental activists, but also quiet observers and poets of the environment whose words and images speak to people in ways that will arouse deep emotions about nature and, in turn, perhaps trigger their own moral outrage about what we are doing to our planet-home."
She speaks my language. And she's encouraged me, through her healing retreat to Iona, to find a place of my own to which I can retreat and deeply connect with myself. It's a yearning I've felt for quite a while now. I've found a few days here and there when I can slow down, but I need an extended time to go out to some natural landscape in order to go within. This is my quest, to find the time and the place to do this. Cooper Marcus has lit the fire that will light my way on this journey. I do not know where this place might be, but I have hints: Scotland, Iceland, Big Sur, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the Baltic Sea. I also do not know when I will be able to do the deep work of retreating, but I can feel that it is not far off. My soul and the land are calling.