Honouring the call back home – an unfolding journey of nature connection

Posted on: 6 August 2020

For much of my childhood I struggled to make sense of life. I found solace in nature, roaming free on the Somerset levels. On day-long bike rides I’d go scrumping for apples, picking wildflowers and rummaging in hedgerows for berries to scoff. I loved being outdoors but as I grew older I lost my way. I’d become busy and anxious. Sucked into a fast-paced, city life of doing and forgetting the art of simply being and taking time to rest into nature. It wasn’t until later in life that I was called back into a deeply intimate relationship with the natural world.

It was springtime in Spain and I was experiencing intense asthma symptoms. Over a period of months, my health had deteriorated to a point where I was unable to walk for more than a few metres before having to stop and gasp for my breath. I’d spent years as a committed yoga student, so was aware of my breathing, but I had always taken my health for granted. Being limited physically came as a huge challenge. My body was saying no and I didn’t want to hear it.

Accepting that I had chronic condition took time. My resistance was unrelenting and I searched desperately for something to make the problem go away. I was battling against my body and the fight was futile. A call inside me, was longing to be heard.

One day, utterly exhausted and barely able to breathe, I collapsed both physically and emotionally. I felt angry, isolated and trapped inside my failing body. I desperately longed for another way of inhabiting life and the world around me.

It was a resentful and inelegant surrender, but through my grief I found acceptance as I gradually began to discover a more subtle way of being, through my senses. Birdsong became more resonant, orange blossom sweeter. I noticed patterns, colours and textures in a way I’d never allowed myself time to explore. Nature’s medicine came as healing balm for my weary nervous system. In these moments, I felt humbled and grateful for my body. I’d opened to a profound experience of connection and interconnection, bringing me more alive than ever before.

During my recovery I’d started to take herbal medicine. Life was slow for a while and I was inspired to commit to a 9-month herbal apprenticeship with a greatly respected herbalist and wise woman. Together we explored profound questions in the realm of healing whilst I tended to myself and attuned to nature in subtle and multi-faceted ways. Through drawing, meditation, foraging and medicine making I developed an intimate and visceral relationship with medicinal herbs, their nature, habitat, qualities and properties. Connecting with the plants in this way felt so natural. It was a real homecoming.

Several months later, I returned to the UK where I continued to heal and gather strength. I had the good fortune of living with a forager. Our friendship grew as we shared time exploring the land, experimenting with herbal oils, tinctures, balms and ferments, in what had soon become a kitchen apothecary. I’d also begun to honour my embodiment of nature’s cycles through a ritual of mandala-making during my menstruation. I discovered that this was a highly sensitive and intuitive time, with many insightful and healing revelations emerging from this sacred space.

This experience brought me many gifts, but what’s currently emerging, as a result of this call back home, is a collection of poems born out of a deep connection to myself, my senses and the natural world.

Through a process, I sometimes refer to as ‘foraging for poetry’, I find myself wandering wild, allowing the land to speak and weave its way through me in a way that touches upon our shared experience of being human. Of our great journey home.

As time goes on, my attention has become drawn to the crisis of disconnection we find ourselves in. The collective story of separation, consumption and depletion continues to express itself through women’s bodies and the body of the earth. We are beginning to understand that inner and outer ecology are inseparable and nature’s cycles teach us the regenerative path. My commitment is to honouring the sanctity of the cycles through art and ritual, whilst using my creativity and insight to help facilitate our much-needed re-connection to the natural world. Nature has the power to regenerate and heal. All we need to do is know, respect and trust in her long-forgotten wisdom.

Sam Lacey