Years ago when I first stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon I could not help but be struck by the realization of my own smallness in the world. The existential and agnostic aspects of my personality could easily take something like that and find confirmation of an ultimately meaningless existence. But I am a typical Gemini and tend to see and feel both (or more) sides of everything. I have also always had a deeply spiritual connection to the world.
Standing there that day I felt small next to the vastness of the canyon, but I also felt connected to the earth. The canyon was so large and so awe-inspiring that it further enhanced my belief that there must be some greater spiritual being. I don’t pretend to know what form this greater power may take, if indeed there is form at all. I only know that I believe that my spirit is part of a larger spirit, that my being consists of energy and that energy doesn’t cease, it merely changes, just as the Colorado River dug a deep chasm into rock to create the Grand Canyon. To me this change of energy could be the Heaven of Christians and the reincarnation of Buddhists. I know that I don’t know, but standing there reassured me in my faith in some way. Faith is belief without knowing. It is about intuition and connectedness. It is about knowing without knowing.
Lying under a night sky in Michigan, watching the clockwork eruption of Old Faithful, and sitting next to the roaring waters of Niagara Falls have all had the same effect on me. But one doesn’t need only vastness and large wonders to instill faith. I have also felt it sitting next to an ebony jewelwing damselfly, in the touch of a snowflake on my tongue. If God is the totality of the energy of the universe and beyond then God is present in all, large and small, and present within me, too. This is why Gandhi practiced ahimsa–to do no violence to any being, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem. This is why the poet William Blake understood that you could “see a world in a grain of sand, and a Heaven in a wild flower”.
It is also why whenever I need to rejuvenate myself I can do so in nature, even in the nature of my own back yard. Nature is where I am most comfortable and where I feel my connectedness to all. I breathe easier and find myself more at peace in it. I can kneel in an altar of mud and be baptized by a natural spring. I can sense the constant and unchanging, yet ever-changing energy of the universe and know that I am of it. I can renew my faith on a blade of grass.