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Touching Creation

By Remy Benoit

The glory of creation is all around us. We find it, and ourselves, when we open ourselves to touching.

I received an e-mail this afternoon.

The words are simple words.

The words in it are soul wrenching.

Once upon a time, three plus decades ago, we sent our military to a far away place to fight a war. Most of them knew little of the politics of the place, just knew we sent them.

Some chose not to go.

Those who did comment quite frequently on the beauty of that tropical country with its dense jungle canopy, its then over 2,000 varieties of orchids.

Because of the intensity of their experience there, many of our young, but not young anymore, came home, closed down, burying heart pain, missing soul pieces. Many were not welcomed home.

Many still carry today the pain, the deeply buried pain of a time and a place they were in and couldn’t leave. In many cases, though home again, they haven’t left yet, or truly come or been welcomed home.

The e-mail I received this morning was about one of them finding part of his wayback home through touching Creation.

It started out simply with a small rock. I asked him to find a small rock, carry it in the palm of his hand; keep it in his pocket, get to know it.

A rock is firm; a rock is tangible. Because it can be physically felt, yes, you can make a connection with it.

He moved on then; moved on to the feel of a tree’s bark; to the feel of the grass; to becoming aware of the fact that no two blades of grass are exactly alike. That is true for each of us too, just as it is for snow flakes, for raindrops, for the water droplets in the vast oceans, seas, and gulfs of this blue planet.

Becoming aware of that awesome uniqueness in Creation leads us to pondering what is the purpose of our own human life. The awareness leads us to asking ourselves, what am I supposed to do; who am I supposed to be; what have all my experiences, joyfilled and painfilled, been trying to tell me?

There comes a time in this touching of Creation, in examining the petals and leaves of a flower; in delighting in the spread of the arms of a Live Oak, or how a Blue Spruce looks sparkling with ice crystals on a winter’s morning, when we are blessed with a flash, a moment in which time stops and we feel the connection of all the Creation, and know, somehow know, at a deep soul level, that it is, indeed, all One, all connected, and that no matter where we have been, or what we have done, what joy or pain we have given or has been given to us, that there is an underlying unity in all of it.

That precious moment is a moment of great joy in the heart and soul of each of us as we come to it. We are never quite the same after it.

It reminds me of a poem we learned back in the early Fifties in elementary school.

I have no recollection of who wrote it, and don’t remember all the lines but it said:

If once you have slept on an island,
You will never be quite the same.
You may look as you looked the day before,
and go by the same old name.
But you’ll hear ships’ whistles and light house bells
beat through your sleep...

That is as close as memory brings me to the words. If anyone knows who wrote that I would love to know and see the whole poem again.

For its message is the same message as the feeling that comes of connectedness when you see morning dew glisten golden on the leaves of a tree, or sparkle silver on a freshly watered fern.

No, you are never quite the same after the connection, after the real knowing that the air you breathe today was breathed by someone else half a world away.

That satori, that gift of enlightenment brings home to you the true meaning of the so-called butterfly effect: that the gentle flapping of beautiful butterfly wings have their own impact on all that is. That connection brings it home to you, that so do your thoughts, your words, your actions have an impact. How much greater their impact may be that the gentle movement of a butterfly’s wings on the summer air.

When that message comes home to you, you begin to come home to you from whatever dark, dense, canopied jungle you may have lost yourself in.

When you start on a more lighted path, you will see besides the sparkle of morning dew glistening gold on a tree’s leaves, that glistening pieces, sparkling soul pieces are winging their way home to you.

Touch a rock, hug a tree, sit in the grass, let tidal waters run over your toes, or hold you rocking gently. Touch Creation and you will find a personal Re-Creation.

The e-mail that moved me to this letter to you may be seen here, under Getting Out of the Jungle, by Harry Kieninger, Medic, Cu Chi, 25/27.

Addendum: A Gift From My Son

He found this for us:

If once you have slept on an Island,
You’ll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked
And go by the same old name
You may hustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you’ll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go,
You may chat with neighbors of this and that
And close to the fire keep,
But you’ll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep,
And you won’t know why and you can’t say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island
You’ll never be quite the same!
Rachel Field


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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