May 12, 2010
Last week I took a hike with a friend to Turtle Back Mountain on Orcas Island where we could literally see for miles and miles. Although we had only gained about 1,000 ft in elevation, it felt like we were part of the top of the world; so moved by what we experienced were we that we found ourselves continually saying aloud O My!; This is spectacular! Look over there!!!! and then a heartfelt …OMG!!!,” followed by moments of sitting in silence to take it all in. It was one of those wonderful days in Washington State where the sun was brilliant, the skies and seas cobalt blue, and eagles soared directly above us relishing the glory of their six foot wingspans. While the wind gently bended evergreen boughs, emerging grasses, and purples wildflowers, I thought, “if ever there was a place of spiritual renewal, this is it!”
The natural world seems to naturally create a space for communion with God and each other. Those who find restoration in the natural world are deeply aware of how connected we feel in those special times to everything in the universe. It is as if we are moved by some force beyond ourselves, to acknowledge there really are powers beyond our own petty little lives; and in the process of that space and time experience oneness with all creation. We have an intimate bond with nature, because we are part of it, and it is part of us. In these moments and sacred spaces, we split off from our daily struggles and problem solving skills, lured to just BE one with all things. Our brains function differently in places like these as it turns off the analytical left hemisphere that continually demands attention for the ego that plans and preserves our lives, to just let the right brain do it’s thing, which is to inspire and connect us, and move us to a place of awe at the wonder of how life is SO connected; and yes, spiritual. I am not talking about pantheism where the rock or mountain is a god, but panentheism where God is in all things; moving through one and all and connecting every one of us through our passion, luring and wooing us through the creative life force to what is of ultimate value for us…to BE, to connect , to pause, reflect, worship….and just get beyond ourselves.
St Francis of Assisi, wrote a famous canticle declaring such a moment as this:
“Praise be to you, My Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun
Praised be to you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and her stars\
Praised be to you, my Lord, through Brother Wind, and through the Air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
Praised by to you, My Lord, through Sister Water…
through Brother Fire…through our Sister, Mother Earth…” (adapted by Neil Pembroke PhD, Moving Toward Spiritual Maturity”)
To breathe in the spiritual energy of the world around us, is to take God’s nurturing spirit deep into our being and let ourselves be filled with blessing.