Clare Cameron, Nature Mystic
Hidden Beauty of the Commonplace
by Philip Pegler
Changemaker Books 2013, 311 pp., £15.99, p/b.
Some readers may be familiar with the work of Clare Cameron (1896 – 1983), nature mystic, poet and long-time editor of the Science of Thought Review. This book, written and edited by a friend to whom she was also a mentor, charts her life interwoven with his own reflections on topics in which he also has a deep interest. Throughout, there are quotations from her works and extract from poems, including section at the end with more extensive original texts. Clare also had a close association with other well-known writers including Alan Watts and Christmas Humphreys – she was editor of a Buddhist magazine for some years. The author provides useful background and commentary on the many spiritual themes covered. As Jeff Foster observes in his foreword, Clare helps the reader discover how to be ordinary in an extraordinary way, hence the title of the book.
The freedom referred to in the subtitle is not an escape, but rather an embrace our humanity and its ambivalent experiences that take on a new meaning when we live from the centre of ourselves. We all share this same ground of being and can occasionally apprehend its oneness. As she puts it herself, ‘the hallmarks of greatness have always been simplicity, modesty, fearlessness – being natural or true to oneself.’ She reflects on the visit of clergyman when she was a young girl, which enabled her to realise the comparative unimportance of what people say and do and the importance of what they are. I was also struck by her love of Brother Lawrence, the 17th-century monk who wrote about the practice of the presence of God. She herself writes: ‘Be true. Be simple. Stop running hither and thither and be still, so that all action is then harmonious, flowing, rhythmic and integral.’ This message is all the more timely 30 years after her death and the book provides a refreshing perspective on the complexities and bustle of modern life.