Naked in Eden, by Robin Easton, is one of the most moving, inspiring, and also challenging books that I've ever read.
It pulses with a rare light that shines through in unexpected ways as the author learns to meet -- and welcome -- the beauty and also the seemingly frightening creatures and events that are part of life in a rainforest.
The book tells the story of the hero's journey – that is to say, heroine’s journey -- which Robin made when she went to live with her husband in a remote area of Australia's Daintree Rainforest.
A place of freedom
In the course of her wild and magnificent adventure, Robin came to a place of freedom in herself eloquently described in the book’s closing words: "The moist smell of damp earth wrapped itself around me, my guardian as I crossed the field at sunset. Miles from nowhere, and I'm finally free."
The myth of “The Hero's Journey", refocused in recent years by Joseph Campbell, is perhaps the most ancient and accurate blueprint for a truly meaningful and happy life that we have.
It requires, of course, that we leave the "ordinary world," and accept the call of the unknown -- a destiny and promise which we may feel in our hearts, but which requires courage and persistence to become known.
The rainforest as intelligent being
Listen to Robin as she describes this process of transformation at work: "Once I understood, deep in my body, that I dwelled in the arms of a highly intelligent, creative, and harmonious being -- the rainforest -- I learned to listen more and judge less."
One of her amazing encounters in this wild, terrifying, yet magnificent environment involved a 12-foot-long python and a tiny bushlark.
The bushlark was a female, with three beautiful eggs in her care. The python -- as Easton watched -- was gliding inch by inch in one fluid motion toward the lark and its nest.
The proud death of a bushlark
The author writes: "The bird darted and dove at the snake’s diamond shaped head. Her wings flapped wildly. The long, elegant snake slid closer. Undaunted. Unhurried.
"The entire rainforest seemed to hold its breath and listen for the outcome of this life-and-death confrontation. Every blade of grass, every tiny insect and bird, every bit of breathing life froze.
“Silence hung nearly undisturbed in the early morning air as the forest watched and waited to absorb the lark’s inevitable death. Fear bulged her eyes. Her cries grew more anxious as she sought to lead the scrub python away from her young."
“The most beautiful song I’ve ever heard”
What happened next? The lark stopped trying to avert catastrophe, and instead, standing perfectly still, “tipped back her head and sang the most beautiful song I've ever heard. A rich melodious tinkling, clear and sweet, floated on the air and echoed off the trees down in the spring. The death song. Or perhaps the sweet song of life. I heard her voice as if she spoke directly to me.
"If I must die than I shall live my last seconds to the fullest. I’ll die bursting with life, my song upon the wind. The world shall know of my beauty."
Was the snake evil? Of course not. It was simply doing what it needed to do to survive. One of Robin's learning experiences in the rainforest -- one of the levers of her transformation -- was the realization that, as she puts it, "evil does not exist in this forest."
The courage of all life
Easton shares with her reader a new understanding that honors the courage of all life "in many ways so fragile and yet in every way, highly intelligent and relentlessly tenacious."
I think you should read Naked in Eden. It's a great read in its own right. Of course, if it makes you see life a bit differently, or opens your eyes to life’s mystery and wonder and essential goodness -- or if it stirs a remembrance in your heart of your own hero's journey – why, that's a bonus, isn't it?
PS. If you’d like to check out Robin Easton’s blog and all the great material she has to offer there, please click here.