The desert is awash with spring rains this year. Drifts of late winter snow seep into the soil, melted by sun and showers of unfrozen moisture. As the earth warms, new growth sprouts into a subtle green blanket indicating the possibility of a great bloom in the coming months. We desert rats are smiling with anticipation.
It is always about timing though. If the rains should suddenly abate, porous soils will drain and return to dust. The flowers will not show. But I think this year will be a good one. My inner wildflower nerd is already gorging on numerous botanical volumes in my library. I try to refresh my knowledge because my 66-year-old hard drive is showing signs of wear. I do not remember all the Latin names I have been learning over the years.
Wildflower identification is, for me, a delight and a mind training. I am enticed by the diversity nature expresses and the names humans give to botanical phenomena. Sometimes I recall the local common name of a plant. Other times, the Latin botanical name surfaces. As I toggle between the two something happens to my mind and heart. The “little grey cells” (ala Poirot) of my brain dance as they rapidly fire off what we call knowledge. But my heart dances to different tune.
The song of natural forms resonates deep within my being. The color and characteristics emanating from a single wildflower sings of connection. It draws me to dissolve the boundary between name and form (nama-rupa in Sanskrit). Flowers cease to be just flowers. They symbolize openness and willingness to express beauty without prejudice. They do not care who enjoys them.
Humans are not so generous. We want to be liked, but only by a select few. We create enemies and hide our beauty from them. Ideas of beauty and ugliness are separated by a chasm of our own creation. We are blind to these filters of perception that create such a disturbing view of the world—and we go to war in hopes of resolving the conflict. This insanity only creates pain and suffering.
Buddha taught us to regain the sanity of what nature effortlessly evokes. If we take a moment to abide in the beauty of wildness and feel our effortless connection, we may experience the dissolving of boundaries between human and flower, self and other. We reclaim natural wisdom and compassion. On the other hand, if we insist on separating judgements, we imprison ourselves with unsettling rage. William Blake, in Auguries Of Innocence, expressed it so eloquently:
“To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove house filled with doves & pigeons
Shudders Hell through all its regions.”