I know it can be hard to be truly 'in' natural spaces sometimes. You might find yourself especially disconnected in an urban setting. I've felt it. Especially when I first moved here. I felt lost.
We forget who we once were. Wild. I know I do sometimes. The memory of being immersed in nature is so strong you imagine that maybe, just maybe, it is part of you and returning there is the missing piece. However, trying an urban nature space on for size might throw up some resistance, no matter your background, a feeling like it might swallow you whole if you let it. Like you just don't know what to do next.
But what if we leapt in and tried anyway?
We have to learn to trust nature again, to learn how to be in these often humble spaces and let them surround us and to take care of our inner nature.
Our urban settings have many, neglected or stalled nature spaces ripe for people to see them again and to find themselves in. They are not ugly, not really. Ugly is only neglect deep! These spaces know how to be beautiful and they are trying their best despite our efforts to conceal and squash them. These spaces just have forgotten how to shine in our eyes because we have forgotten how to see them. They will only shine when we pay attention and nurture them and allow them to nurture us.
A deep appreciation for a patch of green- and ourselves- may take time. It takes a feeling of belonging, of stewardship, of slowing down. A deep mutual care. Returning often to notice and give effort and grace.
Even living in a very green city like Edinburgh I can see that there is often a feeling that public parks don't all seem like our own either. They have been preordained to 'be' the green that we are given in our cities, often seen as flat plains with little interest or different areas to belong, to explore, to settle in, to be playful, to be peaceful, to be creative in.
But what of our imagination? What would you love to see and do in your local park? just as it is? What would make it seem more like a space that is for you?
With my Pop up peace mission of late, I've been thinking, wouldn't it be wonderful if every street had a communal garden or a space on the street that is like a mini park- but like a garden, a place to come together and feel part of a community.
I expanded my green space adventures to find the patches of peace in this city just a few days ago. I went on a lovely wee tour called ' Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile'.
I had been wanting to do this for ages and when I saw it again in the Edinburgh Fringe Programme it was the first thing I booked. The weather stayed dry if a bit windy in the midst of the tail end of Hurricane Bertha.
Jean the tour leader and owner of Green Yonder Tours http://www.greenyondertours.com/ was a delight and invited us all to 'coorie in' ~ a scots word meaning to nestle or snuggle~ and hear her stories of the past and the present lives of these hidden green spaces. Throughout the tour she talked about the transformation of the Royal Mile with slums being cleared to make way for light and air to enter in, and the importance and her admiration of the passion and focus of the pioneers of greening our old town and recognising it's power in living a healthier life.
She spoke of the first children’s gardens/nurseries that were set up in Edinburgh and showed us beautiful images of children in their Victorian petticoats and bloomers being taught outdoors and how to garden. Gorgeous!
She also showed us modern community gardens, public spaces which have been claimed by local residents and are now spaces to be, enjoy and grow their own. Moments of care in patches of peace.
So, it is being done and being done beautifully- YIPPEE! ...I'll be sharing some other adventures of green space advocates here very soon....
But right now I'd like to set you a challenge-
I'd like you to notice your very own urban nature patches of peace in your day to day life.
When you are on your way to work, when you are in a new part of town, or when you are taking your loved ones out for the day. Whether they are established public spaces and/or full of positive possibilities. I'd love to hear how you feel in stepping into those spaces, how you experience being in them, what do you notice? how you feel when leaving them. Do you feel a sense of connection there? Do you feel welcome? What small thing could you do to make this patch of green even more of a patch of peace?
Share your story on facebook or twitter with a photo and #patchofpeace and let's start a conversation.
With warmth and wonder,