Talking to a Daisy

Last week we celebrated the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. This day is also referred to as midsummer’s day.  Ancient peoples believed this was the time of the year when the veil that separates the various forms of the natural world is the thinnest, making communication between them the easiest.

This is the time of year when Ms. Dandelion can dialogue with Mr. Goose, when Senor Oak Tree can chat with Mr. Worm, and when human beings can converse effortlessly with the stars. When I’m facilitating retreats during this time of year, I encourage the retreatants to dialogue with some aspect of creation. I tell them, “Remember, St. Augustine called creation a sacrament. The natural world has much wisdom to share with us.” I tell them to go sit quietly somewhere and respectfully ask the object to share its wisdom with you. Then listen carefully. I give them a few examples from my own dialogues with creation. I once learned these wise things from a herd of cows: “Never wander too far from the herd…Keep your fanny to the wind…Ruminate, ruminate, ruminate.” From a 100-year-old willow tree I learned this: “Every gnarl is a blessing…Stay close to your water supply…Broken branches are a matter of course. Don’t fret their loss…Bend, bend, bend.”

A retreatant in Schuyler, Nebraska dialogued with the prairie wind. Another retreatant in Cape May, New Jersey didn’t dialogue with the ocean—as she had planned to do when she went outside. Instead she ended up talking with a telephone pole. An 83-year-old retreatant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania couldn’t get outside, so she dialogued with the pin oak outside her bedroom window.

At first you might feel awkward as you approach a robin, a daisy, or a butterfly and ask it to share its wisdom with you. But if you sit still for a few minutes, you might be surprised at what you “hear.” And don’t limit your conversations to living things either. You can also garner wisdom from a park bench, a fire hydrant, your bedroom slippers, your refrigerator, or the sun. The possibilities are endless.

When we dialogue with the natural world, we receive several other benefits. We slow down. We increase our attentiveness to the world around us. And we grow in our appreciation for everything that exists. Happy dialoguing!

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  1. Sr Pat Sipan on June 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks , Melannie, You make me pause
    Perhaps when I take my morning walk and talk to the birds etc. I will not be crazy but dialoguing and ruminating.
    You are a blessings.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Dear Pat, People might think you are a little strange if they hear you talking to the birds, so you might want to dialogue interiorly! But today I read a good line from a poem by Wendell Berry: “every day do something that won’t compute.” I like that. We don’t have to do only things that make sense! Love seldom does….Thanks again, for writing, Pat! You are a blessing to me too! Melannie

  2. pjnoga on June 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Dear Melannie, I understand what you mean. I love to talk to nature. Remember my frog, well he’s nine yrs old and I still talk to him. I also talk to butterflies. we had one in Sept. In St. Francis inner city backyard.
    The students brought in the black, white and yellow caterpillar and his
    Milkweed plant. We sent him to Mexico a couple weeks later. He was
    Really beautiful. I have iPad movies. We talked many times. God’s Creatures are so beautiful aren’t they. Thanks for your words of wisdom.
    Melannie. God bless! P.J.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm

      Yes, I do remember your frog, pj. Glad to know he’s still alive. And I’m happy that you’re passing on your love of God’s creation to your students! Melannie

  3. Mary Ellen Beebe on June 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    You have touched my heart..I so look forward to Mondays..I worked at Notre Dame College in the 70’s and 80’s…and those years were so awesome…I welcome your words of wisdom..Thank You.

  4. Mary Ann Ryan on June 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Dear Melannie, I loved this reflection. Yesterday I spent a good deal of time trying to identify the song of a bird I couldn’t see. I checked every bird song book, every web site searching for the answer. No luck.

    Today I discovered the source – a male Cardinal had changed his song to attract his heart’s desire. It was a good lesson – I’ll have to remember to think about changing my song when the occasions require it.

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on June 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      I didn’t know cardinals changed their song! What a lovely lesson from our feathered friend. Thank you for sharing it, Mary Ann! Melannie

  5. Deb Grgic on June 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

    You brought a smile to my face on such a chaotic day! Love that you share your humor and wisdom . God bless!

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on July 2, 2012 at 6:01 am

      Thank you for your response, Deb! Humor is so important, isn’t it? Melannie

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