My wife and I recently took our kids to an event at our local wildlife refuge. It was a pretty small affair, but offered us a lot in terms of education. We learned about birds, snakes, and a variety of other critters. One of those from the “variety” category was a European rabbit. Full disclaimer: I know absolutely nothing about rabbits, so everything you are about to read is based on the assumption that the person with the rabbit knew what she was talking about.
When we pet the rabbit, we noticed that it was shedding like crazy. I asked the woman if this was common among rabbits, and her response has haunted me ever since. She said, “They shed based on season, but this one’s shedding at the wrong time. If he lived outside, rather than in my house, he wouldn’t be shedding in the fall.”
If he lived outside? So, according to this woman who seemed to know a thing or two about rabbits, her bunny was removed from its natural habitat and so his body was doing things that would actually be detrimental to his survival should he ever be thrusted back into the wild.
I couldn’t help but make the personal connection. My family and I piled into our van and covered a very unnatural distance in the time it took for us to get back home. We got inside the house and turned the heater up, because we thought it was a bit too chilly for comfort. We prepared a snack for the kids, complete with a variety of fruits that are not currently in season in Colorado. We even included banana, which doesn’t even grow in Colorado. I then called my mom, who lives over 1,000 miles away and chatted with her as if we were in the same room.
I realized that (barring a significant event) the natural world had absolutely no impact on life inside my house. If I was a rabbit, I would be shedding my coat just before the freezing temperatures of winter took hold. My natural instincts for survival and understanding what it means to live on this planet have definitely taken a significant hit as the comforts of modern human life have evolved.
Of course, I appreciate all the comforts that separate me from nature. I like having a comfortable home, healthy snacks for my kids year round, the ability to hear (and even see) my family regardless of how far away we are from each other. But the question of what all of this is doing to me below the surface feels like an important one. And I suppose it’s that question that opens me enough to stand in awe of experiences like stepping out of our tent on a camping trip this summer and seeing the Milky Way Galaxy for the first time in years.
I’m not sure how we’ve been impacted by our separation from the natural world, but I have a feeling that spiritual traditions that seek to bring awareness to our connection to nature, like Celtic Christianity, have a deeply important role in our lives as a result.
Ben Edwards is a Celtic Way contributor.
Read more about Ben here.