Acclaim Our God with joy, all the earth! Psalm 100:1 (IP)
Growing up in rural Ireland in the 1950s, I lived in a lovely gray cottage across from the beautiful Erkina River. There I felt a close kinship with nature. As I walked through the green meadow I delighted in the fragrance of yellow and purple wildflowers, the sparkling water that gurgled as it flowed, and the cool breeze that blew through my curly hair. I loved to splash in the crystal clear water and watch the fish swim by.
I'll never forget the pet lamb that my brother, Patrick, and I adopted. Each evening, we fed our white wooly pet with a baby's bottle of milk. One day, to our dismay, the lamb swallowed the nipple. When we told our parents the sad tale, they tried to calm our fears and soothe our tears- but to no avail. Fortunately, we found the lamb as frisky as ever the next day. To our amazement, our little pet had not only survived the ingested nipple but had continued to thrive.
During that time of my life, one of my favorite pastimes was to go outside after it had rained-and it rained often in Ireland to make mud cakes. I would mix earth and water together and serve my "cakes" and "pies" to imaginary guests for their evening tea. At an early age, I was tuned into Earth's creatures proclaiming a symphony of praise to the Creator whose glory was all around us.
At the dawning of the twenty-first century, we are rediscover ing our communion with all creatures and joining one another in a cosmic chorus of celebrating. We are awakening to the creative power of the universe and exploring the sacred thread that joins together all living things. We are contemplating Earth as holy ground and embarking on a journey of mutual healing.
In this process we can promote healing and be healed by Earth. It involves individuals, families, communities, organizations and systems in a global dialogue on the ecological issues that challenge the future of Earth and humankind. We can listen to the voice of God speaking to us through the living beings with whom we share Earth as home. We can partake in environmental action that includes doing things like treating each animal as sacred; providing adequate food, clean water, housing, health care and education for everyone in our communities; advocating for clean air and fruitful soil; planting trees; and disposing of trash in a way that does not damage the Earth.
The challenge of our times is to change our way of life, to let Earth be our teacher, and to do everything in our power to reverence the natural world. Then, as the wind blows, thunder claps, waves crash, flowers grow, robins sing, and creatures great and small harmonize, we can join Earth's joyful melody of praise to God.
Take several deep breaths. Breathe in deeply through your nose, so that your abdomen rises. Breathe slowly out through your mouth, so that your abdomen falls. Be aware that all creatures reflect the glory of God. Contemplate the beauty of Earth's creatures. Think about birds flying and squirrels scampering up trees. Hear the wind. See the sky. Smell spring flowers. Join in Earth's prayer of praise.
(If you have a pet, do something to show your love for this special animal.)
Reflect on the interconnection of all beings: mountains, sea, trees, plants, flowers, seeds, bugs, elephants, clouds, sky, human beings. Pray for greater consciousness of our oneness with creation. Affirm our communion by making this your prayer today:
We are all one.
We live together in peace and harmony. We are a divine melody.
We sing a song of praise together.
Go outside and listen to God's rhythm in nature. Observe creation dancing gracefully in wondrous praise. Move your body to the heavenly beat. Let your heart leap for joy.
Hug a tree or caress a flower or plant. Rejoice in the embrace of Mother Earth. Ask the tree, flower or plant to teach you. Feel the energies of creation surrounding you. Give thanks for this experience.
Celebrate the new day with one of the following prayers of praise, or compose one of your own:
May the Earth praise you, Source of Life, as flowers blossom and fill the world with color and fragrance, as trees give fruit and nuts, as leaves swirl and fall, as snow falls on the cold, frosty ground, as ocean waves crash on the shore, as doves coo and tigers roar, as breezes blow and stars shine, as weeds grow and rivers flow, as (add your own examples).
Gracious Creator, I thank you for the wonders of creation this day, especially for the aroma of hot coffee brewing in my kitchen, for the taste of juicy, sweet oranges and warm whole-wheat toast. I thank you for my loved ones' presence in my life and for the conversations that we share at our kitchen table. I thank you for some of my favorite gifts of nature: for the red rose bush in our front yard, for the yellow daffodils that fill our side garden, for oak trees and tall pines in our back yard, for small fish and hard cased turtles in our neighborhood creek, for occasional glimpses of mother eagles and wise owls, for lightening bugs and robins who birth their babies in nests around our house, for (add your own examples). These are but a few of your glorious gifts that I appreciate as morning has broken and life begins today.
Do something today to heal the wounds of Earth. For example, pick up trash on the sidewalk in your neighborhood; plant or prune a tree; plant flowers or vegetables; weed your garden; make a bird feeder; reduce consumption of red meat and overly-processed food items; eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Decide on one way you can simplify your life by purchasing less and enjoying more the gifts of nature.
Use your imagination to meditate on each of the following prayer experiences:
* Embrace Earth and love Earth as a beloved friend.
* Let Earth embrace you, nourish you, forgive you, transform you.
* Open yourself to Earth's spirit of healing.
* Let Earth shed light on your path.
* Walk on Earth as holy ground.
* Feel the gentle breeze blow.
* Delight in the trees, rivers and hills as they sing a love song to
the Great Spirit.
* Listen as the sounds of music fill the Earth, and let yourself be
touched by the melody.
* Allow yourself to be caught up in the marvelous praise of nature.
* Live in unity, harmony and love with all creatures.