Finding Spirit

According to William Powers, in his book “12 By 12,” kids today can identify around a thousand corporate logos, but most can’t identify ten native plants and animals in their area.


The number of logos they can identify seemed high to me. A thousand! My initial reaction was, “There aren’t that many!”

But of course there are. And many more.

I wonder how many I could identify. Too many, most likely. But thankfully I can identify many, many native plants and animals.

Today, most kids can’t identify native plants and animals. They spend way too much of their time inside. Sleeping, eating, and TV. Computers and video games. School. Church if they do that.

Long ago, I don’t even remember when, I realized that the desert was my church. When I need to get close to whatever Spirit it is that I connect with, I go outside. I can find Her inside, too, but I believe Spirit lives outside.

One of the earliest deeply spiritual moments in my life was in 1977. I was standing at the rim of Canyon de Chelley in northern Arizona, and suddenly I was filled with, well, whatever it is.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t ever been to church. I had been raised attending church, celebrating Christmas and Easter. I’d attended summer church events and church camp. But what I liked most about church camp and summer events was being out of doors. That is where I found peace, where I found myself, and where I found the earliest stirrings of Spirit.

Then, that summer at Canyon de Chelley, I can’t even express what happened. I just felt deeply that there was a living Spirit in me. It emanated from the Earth and had nothing to do with the God I’d heard of my whole life. It stirred something in me, and that stirring has never gone away.

More recently, I had the experience of leaning out of a little boat, a panga, on a lagoon in central Baja California to stroke the back of a gray whale. Spirit was there again.

In fact, I felt it as soon as I saw my first whale breaching. I knew it was pure Goodness, pure Godliness, pure Spirit. Touching that whale, looking into her huge eye, moved me in a way nothing else ever has.

I met Spirit in Guatemala on a boat while crossing Lago Atitlan, and met Her again when hang gliding, jumping off a 7000 foot cliff in southern Arizona to circle with hawks.

Of course, it doesn’t take a whale or a hang glide to experience Spirit. She was there today as I sat on a sand bar and looked at the sea. In December, Spirit glimmered in the face of a dead sea turtle. The other day She was in a saguaro blossom.

All of my encounters with Spirit have been outside. It’s not that She won’t come inside. Of course She will. But Her home is in nature.

So. What are we letting happen to our children? When we confine them all day in classrooms, cut funds for field trips, and cut back recess time so kids can do better on mandatory testing, what are we doing to their psyches? To their spirits? How are we interfering with their spiritual development?

I believe in the separation of church and state. But Spirit is not church. She just IS. And She is earth, sea, and sky. She is nature. She is not in a corporate logo.

This is not something I can prove. I have no evidence. I have only the edge of a canyon, a dead sea turtle, and the eye of a whale to tell me it is true.

Whale mama and her baby, Guerro Nego, Baja California Sur. Whale mama and her baby, Guerro Nego, Baja California Sur.

Published by Emilie

I'm a retired instructor from a community college where I taught Developmental English and Reading as well as English as a Second Language. I'm also now a published author of a bilingual children's book entitled. Luisa the Green Sea Turtle - Luisa la Tortuga Verde del Mar. It's available from me, through Amazon, and is in a few (more and more each day!) bookstores.

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  1. I completely agree. Kids should learn about nature so they know how important it is to preserve it and that it makes us whole, whatever our beliefs are.

  2. Beautiful, Emilie, thank you. Sunday morning I was walking along the Rio Grande Gorge with Sam, and a hawk followed us for awhile. Looking up at it I thought we are truly blessed to be able to experience nature/spirit/whatever you want to call it in a way that feels so connected and powerful. No way to get that on a computer screen.

  3. beautiful post amiga, and you nailed what it’s like to have a spiritual closeness with nature. sometimes i feel such an overpowering exchange of love that i feel as if my heart and soul will burst will love. when i am in the presence of a grand tree, i feel obligated to tip my respect in its direction, the same way i would grand an elderly person my respect! we are blessed.

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