Blogging the Spirit: When Others’ Words are Sacred

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Everyday is a renewal,
Every morning the daily miracle.
This joy you feel is life.
Gertrude Stein

 

When I say I connect to God in Nature, it sounds so trite.

And so unoriginal. Even though it is true.

I am not very good at articulating what I mean, because when I try I sound so superficial.

As I am a reader I can’t help but be inspired by words, whether they are officially-sanctioned liturgy and sacred writings or the personal musings of well-known writers and other artists or someone like me. I drink them in and am inspired. And connected.

I chose just a few examples to share. I really ‘feel’ these and I hope you will, too.

hornedowl

Recently, a friend pointed me to the writings of Reb Nachman of Breslov. Admittedly, I had stereotyped people like this as being so different than me, what could we possibly have in common? Well, a lot, as it turns out. According to tradition, Reb Nachman often went into the fields and meadows to pray and be alone with God.

Grant me the ability to be alone;
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
Among the trees and grasses,
Among all growing things
And there may I be alone,
And enter into prayer
To talk with the one that I belong to.

—Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1811) was a Hasidic master and religious thinker and a great-grandson of the founder of Hasidism, the Baal Shem Tov.

*******

In the Episcopal Church, short topical prayers can be inserted into the liturgy of Morning and Evening Prayers.

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers. We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church

*******

Mary Austin (1869-1934) wrote beautifully of the deserts and mountains of the High Sierras.

I rise, facing East,
I am asking toward the light,
I am asking that my day
Shall be beautiful with light.
I am asking that the place
Where my feet are shall be light,
That as far as I can see
I shall follow it aright.
I am asking for the courage
To go forward through the shadow,
I am asking toward the light!

—Mary Austin was an early nature writer of the American southwest. The Land of Little Rain (1903) is a classic on the animals, people and plant life of the High Sierras and the Mojave desert of Southern California.

*******

In this prayer, Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) writes about reverence for the life of animals. I find this particularly emotive and frankly, I wish everyone felt this way…

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are hunted or lost, or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death. We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful.

—Albert Schweitzer, the philosopher/theologian won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

*******

Wendell Barry (1934-) writes often about his connection to nature and on environmental issues. His poems are personal, but so relatable.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests
in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

—Wendell Berry is a well-known environmentalist and writer.

Are you inspired by poems or passages that are similar? I would love to know about them!

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17 thoughts on “Blogging the Spirit: When Others’ Words are Sacred

  1. I really like the prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. It’s full of gratitude for all we have around us and that speaks to me, but that Schweitzer quote really touches my heart also.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have noticed there is so much about Creation and Nature in traditional Christianity and Judaism (I need to educate myself about Islam, but I would assume it’s true there, too, as an Abrahamic religion); in supplementary prayers, even in liturgy. There are beautiful passages about God’s relationship to Creation and Creation’s response to God. But somehow, they seem to have made “Nature” a fringe-y/political thing or worse, anti-religion. I wish that would stop….

      And yes, that Schweitzer quote is very meaningful to me; that someone of his stature, “gets it.”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adrienne!

      Oh yes! There is so much mention of Nature/Creation in the Psalms. 104 is one my favorites 🙂

      I love that passage from Schweitzer. We owe a lot to the animal world….

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      1. Even though I raise animals in attempt to avoid the factory farm system I still wish that I could be nourished without killing animals. Why did God have to make them so cute? I was a vegan and had a major health collapse so there you go–life is so complex!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think you are doing what works best for you physically. And that you are raising animals not in a factory farming situation is something to be applauded. Don’t feel guilty. I do not believe the world will suddenly go veggie overnight; some people will always want meat, but I do believe where we can, animal welfare is really important and that we treat them as best as we can.

          But, yeah, pigs especially are my favorite farm animal and I think they are SO cute 🙂

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          1. I no longer feel guilty exactly. My animals have a great life, but i wish God made meat that looked like a slab of rock. 🙂 Now that I have Lyme, the paleo diet works for me.

            There is a spiritual element to it all as well, for me. But food can be so complicated!

            Liked by 1 person

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