by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For Emerson, nature is both an expression of the Divine and a means to experience, thus know, the Divine. The natural world, the world outside of us, can restore wholeness within us. For when we look beyond the superficial appearances and separate attributes of nature’s many forms and facets to sense their deep interconnectedness, observer and observed merge, inner and outer worlds coincide, and we can be at one with the All. What it takes is our innate ability to attune to our natural surroundings. For we are nature, and nature is always whole.
For Emerson, nature can bring us a deep sense of unity. So go out in nature, but be sure to go alone! Emerson begins his essay Nature with the importance of solitude, describing it as a prerequisite to sensing the depth and essence of nature. He loved being on his own in the rolling hills of Massachusetts or the wilderness of upstate New York, which was still intact mid-19th century.
But what about a random 21st-century cityscape or suburb? Can divine unity be perceived there? According to Emerson’s viewpoint it can –even though it’s obviously more difficult, because of all the distractions. For he explicitly included ‘the arts’ –including the art of architecture– in his concept of ‘nature’, art being ‘nature mixed with the will of man’.
So, wherever you are, sense the presence of the Divine in the wholeness of your ‘natural’ outer world!