On an “Original Relation to the Universe”

“Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?”
–from Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson

On a short walk this morning†, I noticed that ghostly day-moon above me and began to think of those wonderful Stevens’ poems, where he addresses the moon and its effects.  Then I thought, “What would I call her if I didn’t know the word moon, the concept moon, the idea moon, the history of moon?”  An answer came to me, and it made me happy.  It caused me to smile.  I won’t share here what that word was, but I will share what I scribbled into the palm of my hand on the way home.  I said, “An original relationship would mean no sadness because no expectation,” and I add now, “no expectation for a thing to be other than it is.”

It’s easy, especially if you’re a poet, to conceive of seeing the natural world as she is, but imagine seeing other relationships this way, from the one you have with your spouse and children to the one you have or don’t have with God.  What would it mean to let these flowers bud, develop, blossom and wither as they would?  Right now a zucchini vine grows spontaneously in our garden.  Nobody planted it there, but my wife and I have taken great pleasure in its magnificence for two weeks or so.  Today we noticed that deer have eaten back the large heart-shaped leaves.  Still many buds remain.

†This was written on July 10th, 2012.

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3 Responses to On an “Original Relation to the Universe”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thinking of what and how to call things in nature just overwhelms me…the one thing I agree with for all is love…its kind…warm…happy…and always makes me smile…just try to say it and not get a grin

  2. geoheld says:

    Your thoughtful essays always engage me. Your sentences “Lear’s pain and loss are un-redemptive and, therefore, senseless. If this is true, it may also be true that our joys are just as senseless as our sufferings” recall Camus, especially if you use “absurd” for “senseless.” In “The Myth of Sisyphus,” he argues that we must daily act with an authenticity that overcomes our awareness that life is absurd. That is, we must render our joys and sufferings meaningful through our actions. You seem to find in God the authenticity and meaning that center your life.

  3. Susan Krumpfer says:

    Ahh, to live life with this original relation to nature or relationships seems a perfect existence. Having spent (not invested) my mental and emotional energies to please, I have now changed through music, living a stumbling road, and just growing older. My faith life has grown to be content in whatever comes and to trust in the middle of no-control. So much faith, much less worry and struggle.

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