“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.”
Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation
When considering how to navigate life, I look often – and often look first – to nature. She has been doing her thing since the beginning, and doing it quite well. Left to her own devices, nature finds her way, evolves, and expands. She has her rhythms and cycles, ebbs and flows, seasons and themes that all work well individually and together as a whole.
Though nature is perhaps the best teacher to reference when considering how to navigate our own lives, we have forgotten that her nature is our nature. We have veered away from the nature of things, and as a result we experience a sense of separation. When we separate ourselves in our minds from the nature of things, we lose our built-in points of reference. We get disoriented. We need to remember her secrets - that her nature is our nature - and emulate and apply that knowledge in our lives. We need to reconnect with the nature of things.
When I feel clumsy or lost, I remind myself that nature, including me, was created by a far wiser mind than mine. There is something – God, Spirit, Consciousness, Life Itself, call it what you will – in the cosmos that created and orchestrates nature, and did a good job at it. Getting all of the planets spinning just right and all spaced out so that they’re not bumping into each other, breathing life into matter - things like that are no small task. Nature might just know what It’s doing.
By looking to the Source, to the Creator of nature, we can remember how to navigate life organically, with less struggle and less suffering.
I remember distinctly a time that I found myself standing by a lake, in awe of the beauty of it. I was alone with the breeze, the water and the trees, and the breathtaking orchestration of life before me. Standing beside that lake, I had a realization. It was as if the lens of my perception zoomed out and I saw The Bigger Picture. I realized that I was not separate from the nature of things, was not just an observer of the beauty before me, but was included within the picture. I existed within that grand panorama. I realized that I was just as integral an ingredient in the whole of that picture as the trees and the wind and the mountains. I had a place within the Whole. I was not separate. I was viable and valuable and had purpose, even if I wasn’t sure what that purpose was, because everything in the picture had purpose. In that moment of realization, I also had hope, for I realized that maybe I did belong. Maybe there was a place for me, after all.
The river is one of my favorite metaphors, the symbol of the great flow of Life Itself. The river begins at Source, and returns to Source, unerringly. This happens every single time, without exception. We are no different.
Within the river there are long, calm stretches, much like a summer season, that find their way easily and effortless across the landscape. In these calm stretches there are deep, placid pools, the river slowly finding its way. There are shallower stretches, without the depth, but they are no less river because they are shallow. They are just shallow, that’s all.
There are rapids, when the flow is turbulent, almost violent as it finds its way. Yet we don’t judge its turbulence. We marvel at its power, at its ability to find its way over, around and through whatever obstacles are in its way.
There are eddies, when some part of the river seems almost trapped, going round and round upon itself, off in a corner, going nowhere. Sediment and various and assorted flotsam accumulate in these eddies, creating a stagnant appearance. Things settle in these places, and often it feels like the flow of the river has gone wrong, taken a wrong turn. But given time, and knowing that the river always finds it way, eddy’s dissipate, and what was once going round and round is once again absorbed into the greater flow.
In the river one can only see as far back as the last bend, and as far ahead as the next bend. We cannot see beyond that. Nor do we need to. Ours is to navigate, as best we can, the stretch of river that we currently occupy. It is the only thing that we can do, the only thing that we need to do. We cannot go back, and what is ahead will present itself soon enough, in good time.
What we can do is be present. There is, truly, nothing else. We cannot go back and change anything. Behind us is not the same river that we navigated. The current has carried us beyond the last stretch, and it serves no real purpose for us to ruminate again and again about how we would have done it differently had we known what we do now. We did the best that we could, knowing what we knew at the time. We came through the other side, into this new, present stretch of river. We have another chance to navigate, perhaps in a slightly different way than we did yesterday. We cannot go back. But we can learn.
Nor can we go forward, around the next bend, into tomorrow, or next week, or next year. That is not where we are. We are where we are, and that is the only place that we can be. The river is already there, around the next bend. We can trust that, if we will. The river knows where it is going, even when we do not. We can trust the river, for it has and always will know where it is going. It is not required that we know all of the details about every stretch of the river. Indeed, were we to know, it would not be an adventure, and I wonder if there would be much point.
Perhaps M. Scott Peck puts it best, “An adventure is going into the unknown. If you know exactly where you are going, exactly how you will get there, and exactly what you will see along the way, it is not an adventure... If we know exactly where we're going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we'll see along the way, we won't learn anything.”
Reader friendly and so inspirational. He has a gift for making being a human an absolute joy of discovery.
Jeff's book "reads" exactly the way he speaks ... with a deep sense of connection to everything and everybody -- including, of course, nature. Even though I am blessed to be able to see and hear Jeff in person -- often -- I found new insights into ways of living my life in alignment with nature and spirit. I highly recommend the gift of Jeff (through his book) to the world.
This is a book that is as down to earth and its author and at the same time shreds light on questions almost all of us ask at one time or another. He offers guidance in navigating the terrain of today's world while doing so in the voice of a trusted friend. Once I started reading it, I truly didn't want to put it down. While this is Jeff Anderson's first book, it is definitely worth your time and I seriously hope and believe there will be more books from him in the future.
Jeff Anderson's writing style is so comfortable and easygoing; he is a natural. This book was a pleasure to read, and the second time I read it I will be sitting beside a river, soaking up the morning sun, and marveling at the beauty all around us. If you're looking for the perfect book to take with you on your next outdoor adventure, get this book!
The Nature of Things
Navigating Everyday Life with Grace
By Jeffrey R. Anderson
is a book that everyone can relate to in their journey through life. Jeff has a way of transferring his experience through his writing that grabs your interest and makes you want to keep reading on. There is deep beauty in his reference to Nature as a guide for him that draws questions to look inside of ourselves. I look forward to whatever book he will craft to follow in his authoring of this book.
A must read, along with all the other must read.
Thank you Jeff for sharing your wisdom.
Rev. Anthony Jackson
Rev Jeff is a light in the darkness, a man with a sense of humor and a big heart who can write. What more could you ask for? His book is the kind of gift you give to yourself and to those you love.
Dr Venus Maher
Reading Jeff's book brought me quickly to my emotions that were in me, but I was unaware of their presence. I cried, released, became grounded and connected to my authentic self. What a gift Jeff has for guiding us into our true nature of having a valuable place within the Whole.
Reading " The Nature of Things " I felt as if I had found a book that eloquently expressed what I had long believed and experienced in my life. I always felt a spiritual kinship with nature...Absolute truths that I could believe in...Truths that I never fully found in mainstream religions though I tried. Jeff Anderson's book leads to quiet introspection, but it can also be a springboard for great discussions.
The most Absolute amazing Book I ever Read!!
I feel so blessed to hear Jeff speak on a regular basis in Northern California. It only seems fair that he was able to translate his amazing gift of speach into a book that can be shared with people far and wide. His ability to make one laugh, cry and find beauty in even the most challenging of situations never ceases to amaze me. I will be buying this book for family and friends as it is truly a gift.
La Rae Kaarup
I, too, count on the ever-present wisdom of nature to bring me back from the edges of my own abysmal thinking - I, too, go there daily to find solace, balance and strength. I love that Jeff uses the river as the symbol for life experience - pushing off from the shore can mean that we get bumped against a few rocks before we get into the safety of the center of the flow. I will use the beautiful reassuring highly available and understandable truths that Jeff presents for myself, my family and friends, and my clients. I am grateful to Jeff for making the monumental effort to bring forth this teaching for the benefit of all.
I really enjoyed this book. I like the analogies presented about letting go of old belief systems on our spiritual journey. I appreciated reading a fellow traveler sharing simple directions. Thanks for the sign posts!
Elliott Bennett, MA
This book “The Nature of Things” speaks to you as you read it. It is as if the man is in the room talking with you. A great resource to share with anyone you know who might benefit.
Thank you Jeff Anderson!
I really enjoyed this book. The parable of the train cars that carry our old belief systems rang clear for me personally. Jeff outlines a simple and insightful plan to move smoothly along the spiritual passageway. The simple direction he has found for himself is of great benefit for me and I am sure for others that read this book!
Elliott Bennett, MA
Jeff Anderson's book, The Nature of Things: Navigating Everyday Life with Grace, is a delight to read. As I read through the book, I often felt as though I was listening to a wise and gentle teacher who is able to take complex spiritual concepts and present them in a form that even I can easily understand. He courageously shares enough of his own life journey for us to know that he's navigated plenty of life's challenges himself, and he's allowing us learn from his own experiences. He draws on examples from nature to illustrate how changes in our lives are cyclic and natural, and his examples made it easy for me to understand my own life's path. Most importantly, and perhaps even miraculously, after I finished the book and really considered the ideas he presents in it, I really felt and understood that it is okay to be me ... and for me, that is priceless.
Reverend Anderson's book is delightful. As you read through he is able to weave comparisons of nature with spiritual principles in an easy to grasp way, that feels like coming home to an old friend. It is clear that Rev. Jeff has had many challenges and successes in life and he offers humor and compassion as he shows us how to navigate all of them. I highly recommend this book to everyone!!!
LOVE this book! The concept is unlike any spiritual book I've read before...and I've read many. The parallels of our life's ups and downs, ebbs and flow and nature's rhythyms are so linked and entwined that i'm amazed the similarities haven't occurred to me before. What a great teacher nature is at showing us how to move forward in life with grace, trust, ease and confidence that all will be well...no matter what. Jeffrey has a way of bringing us into alignment with this notion. I am a teacher, an artist, writer, gym lover and flea market treasure hunter so most of my hobbies and interests are enjoyed indoors...this is reminding me to get out in nature more and experience my connection to it. This enlightening book is an uplifting, easy read that would inspire all ages from teens to the elderly and everyone in between!
Grace seems to come with acceptance and this little book helped me to accept the twists and turns in my own life without the harsh judgement I often apply to myself. It was a little bit of a shock to realize that I often view nature as something outside of it..an observer. What a delight to step into the picture and accept myself with the same appreciation I have for the rest of the world. "The nature of Nature is our nature." This book helped me to see this afresh. I loved it! Sherry Vierra
The Nature of Things was written in a refreshingly raw honesty as a great gift to anyone who is willing to use the nuggets of treasures Jeff offers. I found myself spellbound by the abundance of useful advice and acceptance on each page I read. I originally thought it was such a small book that I could read it quickly and be done. But each page leaves you pondering your own soul and how you look at your thoughts and the path you are on with new life. I am well into my Indian summer, okay maybe beginning of winter, but I felt I had tools to start a new spring. I appreciate the honestly of the book and its author and I think anyone who reads it will come away feeling accepted as they are as well as inspired to change and grow.
Jeff Anderson’s book is a field guide for life. He gently invites us to consider the experiences in our lives without judgment. Using nature as a metaphor, along with his experience and knowledge, he guides us through the places where we may be “stuck” and offers us insights to help us flourish. I highly recommend this book. It is a treasure chest of wisdom and can be read over and over again.
Jeff Anderson has written an inspirational book that is gentle and thoughtful, making one feel at one with nature and universe, accepting of life's changes and challenges.
Being of Native American descent I am deeply comforted and resonate when I read about life correlated with the ebbs and flows of nature. If we pay attention as Rev. Jeff has, we can learn how to navigate in the boil of the rapids and the calm stretches of our life rivers. Jeff writes as a trusted and wise friend who is easy to hear and holds only the highest potential for our growth and development. This book is a treasure that keeps on giving, thank you Rev. Jeff.
A simply profound read! Jeff Anderson's humanity flows forth and entices the reader to jump in and enjoy the ride. His creative use of metaphors help to illustrate profound principals in a new light which I find extremely helpful. I loved his personal insights which clearly demonstrate his evolving and expanding consciousness. This book is now one of my inspirational resources. I am looking forward to another book from this author!
"The Nature of Things ~ Navigating Everyday Life with Grace" is precisely that! Jeff Anderson, our "nature guide", blazes a trail for us with confidence and light heartedness showing us how to gracefully and joyously travel this wonderful and challenging journey known as life. Much like sitting around the campfire on a starry night, he shares his stories and the lessons he's learned as we laugh and say "Oh, I know that feeling!" and "You know, you're right about that!" and "Oh yes, I've been there!" A wonderful, comforting read that, I believe, all can relate to and enjoy! I'm looking forward to the next excursion, Jeff! Had a great time! Thank you!
The Nature of Things is an accessible articulation of the tender love story of our Soul’s journey back to Itself. Jeff’s willingness to write from a place of vulnerability; in writing from his own personal journey he creates a realness that invites us into our own dance with Truth and to embrace the Divinity that we have always been; to embrace a deeper knowing of ourselves, one another and the wholeness of Life.
Rafe A. Ellis, RScP
Navigating everyday life with grace. Isn't that what we all want? To feel like there is a way we fit into life in a way that just feels at home? Reading this book felt like going for a hike with a good and wise friend.
The author presents his message like a humble offering for our consideration. There is a wisdom, simple, pure, accessible to anyone, readily available when we choose to slow down the pace of our lives and notice that we are a part of a Divinely designed life. The same wisdom that orchestrates the beauty in nature, the cycles of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the river. This book brought comfort to my soul. Encouraged me in a time of personal transition and guided me in a peaceful way.
I have read this sweet book multiple times, it is filled with highlighter and stars capturing my favorite passages. "The Nature of Things, Navigating Everyday Life with Grace" is a book that gives ideas, tools and insights on how to move through life in the same way nature does. I have been a nature lover all my life, Jeffrey Anderson uses the rivers, lakes, mountains, seasons and more to bring forth ideas and metaphors on how life is an amazing journey of change and how we can navigate through this constant change. This book has humor, Spirituality and life lessons. It is a joy to read and to savor.
I will be reading it again and again as I remind myself how I can use my love of nature to learn more fully about myself, other people and circumstances that show up in my life. I highly recommend this inspiring book for anyone who has an affinity with nature.
Absolutely incredibly delicious piece of writing!
marvelous, Fantastic, and life changing, awakening the mind!
Thank you so very much for giving this to us.
Cynthia at the Seashore
This book is so wonderfully written and the lessons are fabulously inspiring....This is truly a great reminder and a fabulous way to introduce your friends to some powerful Universal Spiritual Principles...I could read this again and again and actually plan to check in with these great lessons from time to time.
Rev. Robert Brzezinski