In the Hindu tradition there’s the idea of upaguru, the guru next to you. In my simple philosophy it means that anything that is happening in your life at the moment can be your teacher, if you have the right attitude. In Native-American shamanic practice it’s called “rock seeing,” in which you pick up a fist sized rock and stare at it until you see a picture or get a feeling from the stone that wasn’t there before. Psychologists would say that one is just projecting their unconscious on the rock, but perhaps we are simply becoming aware of what this bit of nature has to say to you. I had a football teammate who was a geology major who always carried with him a bag of rocks. We kidded him about his “rocks,” but he swore they spoke to him. He went on to get his PHD in geology and travels the world as he describes “listening to the rocks.” He told me a while back, that although he has at his finger tips all of geological science, his greatest finds are still the result of listening to what the earth has to tell him.
There have been many times in my life that I have prayed to just hear the word of God. If he would just tell me what to do. I am still learning that he speaks to me in many ways, but if I give my full attention to nature, I often hear him clearly. If you’ve ever been out in the woods and suddenly experienced a shock of grief, or awe, or sense of belonging to something greater it’s because nature has spoken to you. That’s why there’s a timeless, universal tradition of experiencing God in nature. It’s one way of recognizing that we are part of something greater than ourselves.