The Mud and the Clay

There’s a kind of barrier that exists between me and nature. I feel it even though I live in a generally quiet area. From beyond my balcony there are hills and mountains, and on clear days you can even see the gleam of the Dead Sea. I myself am deeply connected to nature, and find that it follows me everywhere: it comes up in my writing, my photography, even my dreams. In times of distress, I close my eyes and imagine certain landscapes to calm me down. Sometimes I’m on a green cliff and the wind is blowing hard; other times I’m lying on my back on a white shore and the water is baby blue and the sun is silver. Still, though, in spite of all this, I feel that barrier.

I think maybe being around man-made things for so long can make us cold to the natural world. We can feel like we’re above it. We can even begin to fear it. Today I came across an expanse of farmland, golden fields that rolled and unraveled into the city. The white stones of the metropolis were hazy in the distance, and at the farthest point of the horizon stood those two, familiar towers. It was special, to say the least, so I grabbed my camera and went.

But not too far.

What I wanted to do, deep down, was keep wading through the grasses until they brushed against my hips; I wanted to crouch down like a preying lioness and grab shots of the city through the stalks of wheat. Instead, I stayed relatively near the edge of the field. I thought of insects, of allergic reactions, of the time my brother-in-law was bitten by a snake because he hadn’t worn his protective boots on his farm. I remembered my father, warning me about all the things that lurk.

And so I stayed put. I used the zoom on my camera lens and kept a safe distance from the thing that makes me feel most alive.

There are layers and layers of anxiety that stop me from really throwing myself into nature, but I think for the sake of my art and for the well-being of my heart, I need to start breaking those barriers down. I need to feel bugs tickle my feet and splash in the wind and feel the sun and get sand in my shoe. I need to leave the politics of being a member of society behind and go back to the start, to the mud and clay, and to the God who created it all.

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