While in Malaysia, Geri and I spent two wonderful days at Mt. Kinabalu National Park in the midst of the Borneo rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world. Enroe was our “ranger guide,” leading us in our hikes during those two days.
We learned a lot from Enroe. He grew up in the rainforest and never saw a city until he was sixteen (He is now thirty). He told us about his mother using particular leaves and plants to stop bleeding or ease fevers. He talked with us about his village, their rhythms, their foods and their culture. He talked about his first visit to a big city at the age 16 and how overwhelming it was. (His city visits even now can only last an hour).
We learned a lot from Enroe as he slowly and thoughtfully answered our questions and tried to digest the complexity of our lives in New York City.
I received two large gifts from him. The first came as he explained how to “listen” to the forest, how to “feel it.” He shared how difficult that is to do when you are with people. This ancient rainforest contains a flora and fauna diversity and richness difficult to take in. I was acutely aware of how distracted and inattentive I can be – especially next to Enroe. The second gift was hearing how the arrival of technology into his village a few years back (i.e. television, sporadic electricity, computers, and cell phones) has changed their community. He is grateful for how much easier life is for his mom and dad. Yet I found myself romantically imagining a life with greater limits around the technologies that surround me. Since returning, I’ve begun to reread portions of Living Into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions, by Arthur Boers. Maybe Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he wrote: “We have allowed our technology to outrun our theology.”
What do you think an immersion in the rainforest might do for our spirituality?