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Divine Nature in the City

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

By Paul Fetler

I felt like was stuck inside someone’s living science fiction novel with pages that were forcefully scratched, erased, whole lives torn out, rewritten new scenarios, and cliffhangers. Who could have foretold the historic life pages that brought the world to a screeching halt within the last year and a half? How overnight countess lives uprooted on the global stage and businesses would be frozen in their tracks?

In the microcosm of my own life, the momentum of an amusement park feeling zigzagging in my car across Southern California to teach yoga and other obligations for years had abruptly halted. Voices in the world news warned that a dangerous malfunction in the ride had occurred, with EXIT lights flashing all over the planet, and we all needed to quickly unstrap, and get to shelter safely.

The Inner and Outer Environment

Parmhansa Yogananda wrote that it is very important to watch closely both the inner and outer environments of our lives. In place of in person contact, the necessity of an outer environment of regular Ananda virtual spiritual community online support was immediately implemented; these virtual gatherings were, and still are, priceless havens of calm amidst an uncertain world drama still unfolding.

Social distancing necessitated my teaching yoga from the desktop computer, so a relentless prior car commute morphed into traveling from the bedroom to the living room. A wonderful inner environment feature, of course, was having more time for meditation and reflection, without as often, the distraction of feeling like the White Rabbit looking at his watch wondering if he will be running late for something.

In the Forest Thou Art Green

Besides only driving to get necessities such as groceries, local places of greenery in the city, especially Griffith Park, were easiest to spread out to social distance. After being in hibernation between apartment walls for long stretches, stepping out of the car into the park’s woodland areas, grassy fields, ferns in the shady dells, only intensified my feelings of being humbled and awestruck by Mother Nature’s beauty. A pervading tranquility, so generously nestled between cities on high alert, was a nurturing parallel universe. Heavenly breezes wafted through the shade of rustling countless leaves of trees. In their quiet beauty, a breathtaking diversity; some with spindly branches, others prickly, some robust, some whimsical looking, delicate, others bushy. All the park land seemed to be emanating balance; never imposing yet always nurturing if we sought Her out.

As in the chant O God Beautiful that Yogananda shared, “In the forest Thou art green,” I knew that I was responding with wonderment not only to Divine Mother through Her natural forms. Knowing the suffering that so many are globally going through, I felt appreciation for Griffith Park more deeply than I could ever recall. How freeing that I didn’t have to social distance with trees! I touched their bark, even pressed my arms around some, and felt instantly a silent healing power. The unexpected blessings of being able to spend extra time this past year and a half with Divine Mother in the park has allowed me shed off some my own self-identified walls.

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