If you'd told ten-year-old me that I was going to end up with a life of gardening, DIY and nature spirituality, I would have declared you mad. I was a very quiet and shy girl whose default mode was sitting indoors with a good book. My life mostly happened in my head.
And it stayed there well into my twenties. I had always been a spiritual seeker, but as I approached my first Saturn Return, my search led me to pagan ways and eventually to Druidry. Slowly but surely I started to explore a spiritual relationship with the natural world. And as I did, my mind slowly flowed out of my head and into my senses.
Not that I'm an expert or anything. In times of heightened emotion or stress, I still default to quiet time by myself in a corner, preferably with some decent fiction. Every day I have to actually work at waking up my senses to the natural world. But now I love being outside. It is where I feel more truly myself, more connected and real.
I do pretty much all of my meditation practice outdoors. I sit on my little blanket on the lawn and just let my senses receive what is going on around me. It grounds me and expands my sense of self. I remember that there is no real separation between me and the air I breathe. I am part of the greater whole, the mystery of Life itself.
Doing physical work and keeping a garden are other things that don't come naturally to me. But I love doing it. Even when it doesn't take me outside, physical work gets me into my body and makes me feel alive. It's so rewarding to be able to point at something at the end of the day and say 'I did that!' I become co-creator with Life's creative force.
The physical work we're doing at Westacre is at least in part inspired by my Druidry and my desire to live more lightly on the Earth. It is my contribution to Earth healing. But as I am doing it, and as I am strengthening my relationship with this particular place and the living beings – bird, bunny and beech – that surround me here, I am also made whole.
My tight shell has cracked. With dirt under my fingernails and bugs in my hair, I have become part of the natural world. Nature heals me. It makes me who I am.