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The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.

Joseph Campbell, mythologist

My last conscious memory last night was of embracing my tiredness and gratefully drifting off to sleep as I was lulled by the rhythmic breathing and blowing of a nearby mother whale and her baby.

What a gift to be spending time in a friend’s seaside home immediately alongside the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, a few minutes’ drive from Hermanus, the Cape holiday resort that sells itself as one of the world’s best whale-watching sites.

This morning I awakened not to the sounds of whales, but to birdsong, meeting seagulls, cormorants and oystercatchers on my early morning walk down to the nearest beach and the invigorating ritual of an immersion in the chilly Atlantic.

I briefly pondered ‘What’s mine to do today?’ and dismissed the idea of doing. Better by far simply to be. To be filled with awe and gratitude to be part of an amazing and vibrant natural world and to be feeling the interconnectedness of all life, along with an acceptance of the rhythms of death and rebirth.

I’d been reminded once again of those natural cycles with the passing a few days earlier of one of my closest friends, who transitioned peacefully into the Light in his Cape Town family home, accompanied by his devoted wife and doting daughter.

A week later it was my privilege to speak at his memorial service. I shared some humorous anecdotes and finished off by quoting spiritual teacher and best-selling author Robert Holden. In his latest book Higher Purpose he writes: “If by the end of this book, you are still not sure how to find your higher purpose, I’ll make it very simple for you.

“Your purpose is to love the world. You are here to be a presence of love. Your work is to be the most loving person you can be.”

I believe my friend was and is that essence of love and his life inspires me to revisit all my goals, aspirations and intentions.

What is mine to do? Is this who I really am? Is this the best me I can be? Who might I be if I let go of my endless striving and simply listened. Listened deeply and devoutly to what is waiting and wanting to unfold. Can I trust those inner prompts? Those whispers of knowing? What is my heart trying to tell me?

A wonderful gift this past year has been to serve as the summer custodian of the Findhorn Foundation’s Traigh Bhan retreat house on the sacred Scottish Isle of Iona, also holding several retreats. And an added blessing was the time when there were no bookings and I was able to be alone with myself, listening deeply while engaging in simple gardening and maintenance tasks in between solo meditative walks.

For four remarkable months I slowed to the pace of my ancestors, walking at pilgrim pace and only driving a vehicle on two occasions when I journeyed back to the mainland and the spiritual community based at the Park Ecovillage in Findhorn.

It was a spiritual, emotional and physical reset.   

Time on Iona also enabled me to dive deeper into my understanding of Celtic spirituality, which is far removed from the fear-based and patriarchal Christian upbringing of my childhood. How could supposedly caring adults try and convince a small child that he or she was born in sin? Does man really have dominion over the animals and other creatures with which we share this quest for survival and thrival? Is it really possible that the Creator is an angry and vengeful god with strangely human traits.

Meeting author John Philip Newell, attending his presentation in the Iona Village Hall and then buying his latest book Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul, has been pivotal and hugely uplifting.

How beautiful are the Celtic messages that, far from being born in sin, we are all Divine beings and part of an interconnected and interdependent world of Oneness, which celebrates all lifeforms and honours the sacred feminine and masculine equally. This has that instant rightness and resonance of truth.

Another book I’ve enjoyed recently is I May be Wrong by Björn Natthiko Lindeblad. It tells the story of a Swedish student who became a Buddhist monk in Thailand for 17 years and it has opened me up to questioning all my firmly held beliefs.

Which always brings me back to the practice of deep listening and trusting those intuitive hits that come from the heart, rather than the head. Does this resonate? Does it have the ring of truth?

It’s an exciting journey and a work in progress.

I suddenly had an urge to seek guidance from my favourite card deck and had to smile when I drew the Angel of Exploration. It invites me to ‘Investigate the possibilities. Cultivate curiosity and interest. Go beyond the known and familiar. Ask provocative open-ended questions and anticipate remarkable, refreshing answers.’

WHEN I GO FROM HERE

When I go from here, I want to leave behind me a world that will be richer for the experience of me.

I want creatures – the animals and the birds – to be less afraid of human beings because they have known me, because I have blessed and loved them and, far from doing them any harm, have done them good.

I want to leave trees that are rustling with my thoughts; trees that have heard me speaking to them when we were alone together, trees that, one day long after my form has disappeared, shall still in some mysterious way, cherish in their very beings their secret knowledge of me, so that others who seek shelter from the rain or who seek shade under their branches, shall catch the peace that went out from me.

I want to leave the whole of Nature nearer to the whole of man. I want to store up riches in the wind and to leave blessings travelling upwards to the stars. I want to leave my peace in the grass. I want the tears that I have shed for the sake of high love to come again in the dew. I want to leave Nature richer for having known me.

I want to leave my fellow man more sure that there is a Divinity that shapes his ends. I want to leave him with the knowledge that death is nothing and life is everything.

When I go from here, I want to leave behind me a deeper sense of God.

Brooke Astor

New York’s First Lady of Philanthropy who died in August 2007, aged 105.

By night she reigned over New York society with a disdain for pretension and by day devoted her time and considerable resources to New York’s unfortunate – for decades she was known as the city’s unofficial first lady.

With a wink and a smile she liked to quote the leading character in Thornton Wilder’s play, The Matchmaker, saying: “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it is spread around.”

Geoff Dalglish

Geoff Dalglish

Odyssey's 'Pilgrim at Large'

Geoff Dalglish is a writer and spiritual and ecological activist dedicated to raising consciousness. He has walked more than 30 000km with climate change messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth. He is an ambassador for the Findhorn spiritual community and ecovillage and is Odyssey’s ‘Pilgrim at Large’.

To connect with Geoff email [email protected] or visit www.findhorn.org.

Geoff Dalglish

Geoff Dalglish is a writer and spiritual and ecological activist dedicated to raising consciousness. He has walked more than 30 000km with climate change messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth. He is an ambassador for the Findhorn spiritual community and ecovillage and is Odyssey’s ‘Pilgrim at Large’.