Debra Donnelly-Barton has graciously shared her Summer Meditations with our blog and today’s post is the last in this series. Let’s take a few moments to contemplatively read her reflection and then maybe take time to be outdoors, recognizing this deep sense of Presence.
A Liturgy of the Living Earth
Praying the hours in tune with nature
Earth’s Wild Wisdom
The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is that I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly and doing rightly. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson is speaking here about a life open to conversion. Every day as we encounter the earth, attentive and listening, we are invited to go deeper. Deeper into ourselves and deeper into the One present in all Creation.
I know something about this conversion of the soul in the wild places of earth. My first encounter of God—not Sunday school God-but mystic silent God—took place contemplating moving rivers and rugged mountains. I was a child in the Alaska frontier and I wouldn’t have known that I was contemplating anything. What I knew was a deep sense of Presence reflected by the enormity of landscape. God was not in a building, but in everything that was.
My need for God was met by the howling sacred spirit in snow and wolf and bright stars in a huge night sky. These were my early scriptures and I learned to read them with my heart rather than my mind. Whenever I needed to change my perspective I went to the outdoors—woods or snow-covered pathways or frozen rivers. I could breathe fresh air, move through beauty and come back to the tumultuous home of my childhood—renewed and converted.
Our summer meditations ended a bit abruptly. I have wanted to leave you with something to ponder as the summer moves into fall. Not everyone will have access to wild places, but most will be able to get outdoors, even in your yard. There you will find an unmediated space for coming near to God. It doesn’t require words or specific prayers. What is required is your own presence.
Practice presence when you encounter the bunny and squirrel, the flower and tree, and the sky in its many manifestations. All these may be your teachers. Small creatures remind us of the tenderness of life. Flowers speak of abundance and beauty. Trees, with history in their bark, mark the passage of time. And the sky hovers over the landscape changing colors and patterns to reflect the continual movement of air and light and season.
The Living Earth sings the love and creativity that brought all things into being. The First scripture is a precious gift from the One who loves us and knows our need. Each day wander outside. Ask the earth what she is saying to you. Write it down. Tell it. Marvel at her power and wisdom.