How to Be Rich in Nature
By Audrey Hope



“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
—  Marcel Proust

We need to be taught how to see — how to look up and around. We need to be taught how to hug a tree, and honor the sun and love the rain, and notice the clouds and bow to the earth. My friend Rich taught me how to stop..

A few years ago, Richard Sproul was diagnosed with AIDS, and everyone told him AIDS was a killer and that he could die. His T-Cells were at zero. His immune system was at zero. His viral load was in the millions.

When Rich got really sick, I watched the night with him. He was scared and didn’t think he would make it to morning. In that darkness, he finally committed to the harsh AIDS drugs he so hated. We took out the pills and vibrated them with love, and tried to make them magic.

I remember the pain of his journey then. He felt every effect of the drugs in his frail body — his spine burnt and his skin grew welts. I remember that he couldn’t move. And I can remember his wish to see his family again in Oregon, and of course he longed to surf the waves of the Pacific.

This is about when I started to see how great a man can be. And how attitude is the only thing that truly matters in a life. And how the beauty of  nature is a force field stronger than pain. Rich never complained. Instead he began to honor every moment of every day and every movement of the sky and the earth. I began to understand grace. In the possibility of his death, I learned how to live.

Rich’s story is not about a man with AIDS. The real story of my friend is about an amazing soul who tapped into the amazing power of nature as a doctor. It is the triumphant tale of a man who uses the ocean and the sun and the trees and the sky and the waves as God’s medicine. Rich has discovered the secret elixir of life — to breathe in the energy of mother earth to feel the bliss of being alive. Being on one’s knees to it all. Every day.

I want to be Rich. I want to be humble to God’s glory and grateful for the miracle of the earth. And often now, when I am driving fast on Pacific Coast Highway to get to work, I slow down just a little. I say a hello to the moon, and a blessed thank you to my dear friend Rich who taught me how to see.  

Audrey Hope is the spiritual counselor at Passages Rehab in Malibu, and host/producer of REAL WOMEN, an international award-winning talk show dedicated to life-altering perspectives.

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