Natural Presence integrates the traditional disciplines of natural history and contemplative practice. The term has several overtones. First, Natural Presence represents the effort to let the natural world make itself present to us on its own terms, as much as we can. The term also notes that as children, we begin our lives “naturally” with a holistic presence to nature. Third, it refers to the naturalist’s presence to nature, including her whole self: physical, intellectual, sensory, emotional, spiritual.
Through natural history, we engage not only our minds, but also our physical and aesthetic senses, our creativity, our relationship with the transcendental. Contemplative practice honors our human need for reflective space as we build new information, ideas, intuitions into a framework of meaning. The broad tradition of natural history, and the science that is currently its dominant form, already contain many contemplative aspects, though these are typically unrecognized. Natural Presence elevates these meditative dimensions to conscious awareness as we engage with our natural Other in an I-Thou relationship.
(I’ve written more about Natural Presence here.)