This post originally appeared on the Retreat Guru blog here.

Nature is the ultimate teacher, the ultimate guide, and the ultimate expression of truth. While human teachers are also part of nature (indeed, what isn’t?) they are the sources of wisdom most prone to folly. Immersed in the natural world and the natural world alone, we return to our pure, beautiful, animal nature and our transcendent selves at the same time. Together, they comprise the breadth and depth of our humanity. And it is only when we are fully human that we can hear what entities like the wind, the birds, the sun, the moon, and the rocks have to tell us.

‘Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters.’-St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Once we have stilled our bodies, quieted our minds and opened our hearts to a sufficient degree, once we have rested our weary selves on the skin of Mother Earth, the messages from the natural world can be ‘heard’. While it would not be appropriate to interpret the symbolic nature of the messages anyone receives (that is for the recipient and the recipient alone) in essence the language of life always speaks of love, of safety, of not holding on, of letting go. In other words, ‘trust’. Whatever else Mother Nature has to impart, these themes are always part of the communing that is allowed to occur when we return to our Source. A simple ‘Hi Mom, I’m home’ is all it takes!

The ancient yogis—and wise beings from every wisdom tradition throughout time, which most certainly includes Native Americans—learned this long ago. The importance of attuning oneself to the ‘voice of the wilderness’ by way of removing oneself from the less-than-ideal environments, habits and patterns that both our societies and we as individuals create, has always proven invaluable as we reclaim, and return to, our authentic selves.

In the process of fasting, praying, meditating, sleeping on the earth, imbibing sacred plants and otherwise honoring all creation with both internal and external ritual, the message we need to hear comes through. What mother would refuse the call of her children?

‘Ask and ye shall receive’. It is always so. ‘Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.’ said Edward Abbey. As will you, traveler, once you revisit…and remember.

I am the Earth
I am the opening heart
I am the sky
I am the endless expanse of awareness…
My tribe is creation
The earth is my clan
All that exists here are my people
I am the flowering of forever
In the garden of the divine family…

-Song of the Sylvapolitan