FINDING THE GOOD

On readings for February 20, 2022

7th Sunday after Epiphany, Year C

Opening Prayer

Beauty Giver

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

This we’ve heard from wise ones in the past.

You have given us perceptive eyes and ears

To discover what charms and gladdens us.

Everywhere beauty awaits our contemplation

In nature, music, art, word, drama, dance,

In human landscapes of body, mind, and soul.

To behold and receive these inspiring treasures

All we need do is awaken our dulled awareness

And bring a nonjudgmental openness of mind.

Today:  With a grateful heart I find and receive beauty.

Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, February 16

Opening question for sharing

When has something “bad” turned to good for you?  When did a loss, or a failure, or mistreatment from others eventually turn to good for you?  Share only what you are comfortable talking about.

Genesis 45: 3-11, 15

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph.  Is my father still alive?”  But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.  Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.”  And they came closer. 

He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.  God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

   Hurry and go up to my father and say to him. ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay.  You shall settle in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, as well as your flocks, you herds, and all that you have.  I will provide for you there – since there are five more years of famine to come – so that you and your household, and all that you have, will not come to poverty.’ 

And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers talked with him.

Guided meditation

          Use the relaxation talk to relax from your toes up to your head, breathing in God’s light, comforting darkness, love, strength and healing power three times.

          Put yourself into the scene where Joseph tells his brothers his true identity.  Use all five senses in imagination. You might be a participant or yourself as an observer.

  • Imagine the throne room or courtyard where the conversation is taking place.  How grand is this place?  What decorations are visible?  What robes is Joseph wearing?  What do his brothers wear?  What are the expressions on his brothers’ faces?  What does Joseph show of his own emotions?
  • Listen to Joseph’s woods.  Hear the silence, the frightened silence of his brothers.  What other sounds are in the room?
  • Is there incense burning in this room?  Can you smell the ‘shepherd smell’ of Joseph’s brothers, or the smell of fear?
  • Can you ‘taste’ the tension in the room, since the brothers are brought back having been found with stolen goods (planted by Joseph)?
  • Can you feel the tension in the room?  Can you feel it dissipate as Joseph continues to speak?  Is the air stirred by fans of throne attendants?  Is it hot or cool?

Now, feel the emotions as Joseph kisses his brothers, and they finally are brave enough to speak with him.  What feelings wash over you?

At the end of this scene, have a conversation with any comforting God-image you can imagine – Mother/Father God, Comforting Holy Spirit, Jesus as friend.  Speak from your heart about a time when you felt mistreated by others or another.  Has anything good come from that bad time?  Perhaps not.  In that case, ask your God-image for the grace to heal from the experience and perhaps makes some sense of it at a later time.  If you can think of something good, imagine what possibilities, or new awareness, or spiritual growth came from that time of stress, sorrow, or pain.  Take time to listen to God tell you more about your dark times, and how God can bring light to them.  Be very gentle with yourself as you reach to find forgiveness in yourself for these others who harmed you.  Ask for grace to find the good in future events, beauty in difficulties and grief.

Share whatever you are comfortable talking about with others in your group.

Related readings

When you finally learn that a person’s behavior

has more to do with their own internal struggle

than it ever did with you… . you learn grace.

Anonymous Face Book post

IT ACTS LIKE LOVE

It acts like love – music,

It reaches toward the face, touches it, and tries to let you know

His promise: that all will be okay.

It acts like love – music, and

tells the feet, “You do not have to be so burdened.”

My body is covered with wounds

this world made,

but I still longed to kiss Him, even when God said,

“Could you also kiss the hand that caused

each scar,

For you will not find me until

you do.”

It does that – music – helps us

to forgive.

Rabia, Love Poems From God,

Ladinsky, ed.

IN HIS SANITY

If all the tenderness in this world could reflect

from my eyes, would you accept

that love?

If all

the forgiveness

the heavens have known could be offered

from one

face,

would you accept that

divine pardon?

In His sublime sanity –

every moment God offers

that to

us:

anything that might

comfort.

St. Francis of Assisi,

Love Poems From God, Ladinsky, ed.

THE FOUNDATION OF GOD

My perfect Lord sang,

“Less likely is God to condemn my hand’s action

than condemn any

soul.”

How could that be possible,

my heart thought?

And the Christ, knowing all minds, replied,

“Forgiveness is the foundation of God’s

being.”

St. Catherine of Siena,

Love Poems From God, Ladinsky, ed.

Closing prayer

Within its translucent beauty,

Surrounding us in its mystery,

Curving back upon itself with promise

Empowering us with its faithfulness,

Bringing peace, hope, healing,

Is God’s love.

Thus, life’s sojourn can be walked

Without weariness,

Lived without fearfulness,

And celebrated in joyousness.

Love, God’s love.

Rev. Dr. Raymond E. (Bud) Hearn,   

        Reaching Toward Infinite Light, p. 51

WEAVING WITH GOD

On readings for February 6, 2022

5th Sunday after Epiphany, C

Opening Prayer

Filler of Hearts

O Filler of Hearts, what abundance,

What spiritual riches you contain.

You plead daily, “Wider, wider?

Unblock your constricted heart.”

You consistently implore, “Open,

Open, open to receive my gifts.”
When my heart does finally release

And receive your outpouring love,

Precious gifts come flowing forth

From your generous heart into mine. 

Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, February 8

Opening question for sharing:

What activity, profession, hobby do you LOVE doing?  How did you first discover it?  What other roles did it lead to?

Scripture

Luke 5:1-11

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Guided Meditation

(Use the relaxation talk to relax from your toes up through your head, breathing in God’s love and breathing out troubles and worries)

          Imagine that you are with Peter and the other fishermen.  You can be yourself or a character in the story.  Use all five senses in imagination

What does the day look like?  How is the weather- cloudy, bright?  Can you see the waves and sparkles of sunlight on the water? 

What can you hear- sea birds cawing, lapping waves, wind, the creaking of oars?

Can you taste the salty air?

Can you feel the roughness of the wooden boat and oars?  Can you feel the canvas of the sails as they billow?  How cold is the water?  Does the water splash onto you?

What smells are around – fishy smells, the odor of sweating men, the clean, fresh air?

Go through the story in your imagination, letting it unfold as it does in scripture or letting new things happen as your imagination works with God’s imagination.

When there are so many fish caught that the boat starts to sink, imagine Peter’s distress.  Hear him ask Jesus to leave him, saying that he (Peter) is not worthy to be around someone who commands the sea and the fish.

Now imagine that Jesus smiles as he reassures Peter.  There might be a twinkle in Jesus’ eye.  He might say something like, “That miracle of the fish is nothing.  You haven’t seen anything yet!  I will help you fish for PEOPLE!”  Imagine Peter’s wonder and relief, his joy and anxiety.

Now spend some time as yourself with Jesus, almost as with a best friend.  Ask Jesus what talent, profession, or gift you possess that Jesus could turn to something similar but new.  What might you become, joined with God?  I’ve sometimes thought of myself as a “Writer of she-mails” because I love sending prayers, thoughts, and poems to the members of my mostly female meditation groups.  What could be your new title for this chapter of life?  Fill in the blanks to this sentence that Jesus speaks directly to you, “I will make you ——er of ——-.”  Reader of stories? Writer of prayers?  Helper for shut-ins? Enjoyer of nature?  Walker with others?  Praying person for others? Photographer of people and the natural world?  Cooker for loved ones?  Seamstress for family?  Dancer for joy?  Encourager of connections?  Let your imagination and God’s use what you can already do and turn it into something new.

To help you, you might use what I call the “Cosmic Equation,” (Ephesians 3: 20-21) to explain how our task is to ask and imagine; God’s task is to DO infinitely more than we ask and imagine. Here’s Ephesians passage:

Glory to God, whose power working within us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.

Imagine that you are diagonally weaving your hand’s fingers with God’s fingers, making almost a heart in the air, with the thumbs forming the upper curves of the heart.  What could be your new name, your new calling, your new occupation for the next chapter of life?  Share what you are comfortable talking about with the group.

(The in-person art project is two half-circles, each with four “arms” extending from the half-circles.  You weave the arms together diagonally to form a heart – symbolizing your work combining with God’s.)

God’s power working within us can do infinitely more

than we can ask or imagine.

Write on the heart your new title or description.

Closing Prayer

Beloved Sculptor

In your loving hands, pliable clay takes shape.

The substance of something valuable comes alive.

What we might have rejected as worthless

Becomes a priceless form of hidden beauty.

Your vision of what now lies buried within life

Continues to develop in the shaping of ourselves.

Unwanted personality traits and tiresome troubles

Are received as teachers of spiritual development,

Accepted as unimagined profiles of needed wisdom

Sculpted by the dexterous movement of your love.

Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, February 10

Imagining Hope-filled Futures

on readings for January 23, 2022, 3rd Sunday after Epiphany, C

Opening Prayer

Hearer of All

You hear the jubilation

Of the happy-hearted,

And the questioning

Of the confused seeker.

You hear the shout

Of the angry one

And the last sigh

Of the dying.

The ear of your heart

 Is always open to us.

Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name, April 8

Opening question for sharing:

Where or when did you find sudden hope after despair?  Share only what you are comfortable talking about.

Scripture:

Luke 4:14-21

Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Background of the Gospel:

The writer of “second Isaiah,” the 2nd of probably two or three writers of the book of Isaiah, was writing to the people of Israel after most of them had been deported to Babylon after their country had been defeated.  They were enslaved, in a land of plenty, but having little or nothing.  The gods of Babylon seemed more powerful than the God of Israel.  They despaired.

The writer of 2nd Isaiah was proclaiming hope that the people would some day return to their homeland and to the place where they used to worship their God.  The writings were a glimmer of hope in a great darkness for these people.

In addition, there was in the message of Isaiah, a call for the entire people of Israel to stay with their God and become the light and hope of others.

Christians believe that Jesus was announcing himself as the bearer of this hope, this healing, this light from God.

(from Elizabeth Johnson’s book Creation and The Cross)

Meditation

(Use Relaxation talk)

Is there darkness or despair in your life right now?  Imagine solutions, surprising solutions to those troubles.  Think quite concretely.  What would ease the problem or problems for you?  You don’t need to know how the solution might happen.  You just need to picture a dawning of light and hope easing or even erasing the burdens you might feel right now.  Use all five senses in imagination to picture an answer to the problems, the despair or the burdens you feel right now.  What would it look like, taste like, feel, smell, and sound like?  Take your time to imagine miraculous easing of troubles, erasing of problems, joy overtaking despair.

          Towards the end of your imagining, have a conversation with God about what you’ve imagined.  What do you hear back from God the Father/Mother, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?  See if a thought, an insight, a memory, an image, a phrase, a desire, or a feeling comes to you.

Here are some thoughts on hope by other authors which might help you hang on to your image of the solving or erasing of your problems.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –

Emily Dickinson

Hope is the source and spring of all the alchemies of transformation, the greatest treasure of the heart and mind, the philosopher’s stone that transmutes agony and tragedy into new life. Never abandon hope, or you abandon your closest and most helpful guide, the Friend.

~ Rumi

Spirit of Holiness

Startle us anew with Your presence

That we may hear the melody of Your grace

Its promise to make all things new

For in each passing moment

Miracles are yet to be realized

Bringing hope from despair

Healing from life’s dispiriting moments.

Rev. Dr. Raymond Hearn

Closing Prayers

Spirit of Holiness,

Enter our loneliness,

Speak to us in recreating ways.

That our lost dreams may be found,

In our defeats, seeds of new birth.

 In our remorse, comfort,

In our wounds, healing,

In our sorrow, joy,

In our turmoil, peace.

Spirit of Holiness

Enter our lives with Your presence,

Overcoming our lostness,

Complacency,

Uncertainty.

Spirit of Holiness,

Empower us for the journey ahead.

Be our companion,

Our source of peace, comfort and healing,

Speaking to us in new and recreating ways.

Rev. Dr. Raymond Hearn, Reaching Toward Infinite Light

Today

Let me live today.

Let me be open to the miracle of this day.

Let me breathe the best of today.

Let me not miss the heart of today.

Let me find the gift of today,

 hidden like a jewel in rubble of care, duty, and detail.

Let me pause to hear

 the steady beat of the heart of God –

 hoping, aching, sorrowing, expectant, patient, despairing heart of God.

Listen, listen.

Do you hear it?

Ever so faint but steady, steady,

 rhythmic organ, strong muscle,

 thumping, beating, pumping, sustaining, encompassing,

 wildly dancing heart of God.

Let me live this day, aware, open, listening, breathing, alive.

The Reverend Virginia Going

Psalm 8

For Saturday, September 25, and Sunday, September 26, 2021

Scripture, quotes, guided meditation

Psalm 8
O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants

you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,

to silence the enemy and the avenger.


When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are women and men that you are mindful of them,

and the children of women, that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,

and crowned them with glory and honor.


You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Sister Ilia Delio, scientist, scholar, and Franciscan, speaks passionately about love:

“Everything that exists speaks of God, reflects that love energy of God. But God is more than anything that exists. God is always the more of our lives. We can’t contain God. If we try to control God, that’s not God; God always spills over our lives. So, God is our future. If we’re longing for something we desire, it’s that spilled-over love of our lives that’s pulling us onward, that’s luring us into something new. But we don’t trust this God [of implanted desire] often. We were pretty sure that God’s there, [and] we’re here, and we just need to keep [on] the straight and narrow path. . . .

What Francis [of Assisi] recognized is God is in every direction. That you might arrive, you might not arrive. You might arrive late; you might arrive early. It’s not the arrival that counts. It’s God! It’s not the direction that counts. It’s just being there, trusting that you will be going where God wants you. In other words, God is with us. Every step of the way is God-empowered love energy. But we tend to break down and start controlling things: “If I go this way, I’m going to get lost. Well, what if it’s wrong? What will happen to me?” Well, what will happen to you? Something will happen. But guess what? Something’s going to happen whether or not you go; that’s the whole point of life. So, it’s all about love.

So, it’s not like we’ve got this, “Here’s God; here’s us. God’s just waiting till we get our act together and then we’ll all be well.” That’s a boring God; that’s not even God. God is alive. God is love. Love is pulling us on to do new things and we need to trust the power of God in our lives to do new things. . . . We need to unwire ourselves to recognize that the God of Jesus Christ is, you might say, the power beneath our feet, the depth of the beauty of everything that exists, and the future into which we are moving. . . .

Every one of us is written in the heart of God from all eternity, born into the stars, born, you might say, into the galaxies, born on this earth in small forms, developing and coming to explicit form in our lives, given a name. It’s a fantastic mystery of love.”

Ilia DelioCONSPIRE 2014: A Benevolent Universe, (Center for Action & Contemplation)

You are a new creation every day, changing moment by moment.

God is ever creating us, moment by moment.  We are continually growing, changing, evolving, becoming more of who we truly were made to be.  We are new creations each and every day!  Like a tree or plant outside our windows, it may look generally the same, but the truth is it has changed…  God is always moving through us, in us, and among us. Let us take the time to thank God for the gift of our lives and for drawing us closer, moment by moment.”
Maria G. Cressler
Executive Director, Ignatius House, Atlanta, GA

MEDITATION

During the quiet time, you might want to illustrate this saying and or meditate on becoming a new creation, moment by moment.  God not only creates and re-creates the cosmos, but God also shapes and re-shapes us continually.

Relaxation talk (Relax from your toes up, breathing in and being surrounded by God’s light, love, strength, and healing power three times. Hand over to God any  burdens, cares and worries for right now. Let go of the things of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so that we might encounter God in God’s eternal NOW.

Then imagine a favorite place, real, imaginary, present or past, using all five senses in meditation.  What can you see, hear, feel, smell, taste?

Then invite a “Dear One” or a “Divine One” to sit with you in this place.  It could be a loved one, living or passed; it could be one aspect of God – Mother God, Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Sister Spirit – whoever feels easy to speak with.

Pour out your heart’s longing for becoming a new creation.  That deep longing is probably from God.  Then listen and notice the response of the person with you.  What words, phrases, memories, pictures arise in your mind?  Notice any gestures or the expression on that person’s face.  What comes forward about your new creation?  Remember that there is no wrong way to spend this quiet time.  Whatever comes – even if it is simply resting quietly before God – is your gift for this meeting.

If you feel so moved, you could illustrate the following saying in any way you’d like.

You are

a new creation

 every day,

changing moment

 by moment.

Tree Meditations

For Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12, 2021

Scripture, various author quotes, my meditation questions

Psalm 1: 1-3

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,

or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers,

but their delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on God’s law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees planted by steams of water,

Which yield their fruit in its season,

And their leaves do not wither.

In all that they do, they prosper.

Quotes from FINDING THE MOTHER TREE, by Suzanne Simard

“The old trees were the mothers of the forest.

The hubs were Mother Trees

Yes that’s it. Mother Trees. Mother Trees connect the forest.

          This Mother Tree was the central hub that the saplings and seedlings nested around, with threads of different fungal species, of different colors and weights, linking them, layer upon layer, in a strong, complex web.  I pulled out a pencil and notebook.  I made a map: Mother Trees, saplings, seedlings.  Lines sketched between them.  Emerging from my drawing was a pattern like a neural network, like the neurons in our brains, with some nodes more highly linked than others.

Holy Smokes.” (p. 228)

          “What the trees were conveying made sense.  Over millions of years, they’d evolved for survival, built relationships with their mutualists and competitors, and they were integrated with their partners in one system.  The firs had sent warning signals that the forest was in danger [from budworms], and the pines had been poised, eavesdropping for clues, wired to receive the messages, ensuring the community remained whole, still a healthy place to rear their offspring.”  (p. 254)

“Mother trees somehow enhanced the health of their kin.  And not only their kin, but of strangers too, and other species, promoting the diversity of the community.” (p.286)

“The Mother-Tree seedlings flooded the network with their carbon energy, and it advanced into the needles of her kin, her sustenance soon within them.  The data also showed that injury, whether by western spruce budworm or the shears, induced the Mother-Tree seedlings to transfer even more carbon to her kin.  Facing an uncertain future, she was passing her life force straight to her offspring, helping them to prepare for changes ahead.

          Dying enabled the living; the aged fueled their young.

          I imagined the flow of energy from the Mother Trees as powerful as the ocean tide, as strong as the sun’s rays, as irrepressible as the wind in the mountains, as unstoppable as a mother protecting her child.” (p.287)

          “I believe this kind of transformative thinking is what will save us.  It is a philosophy of treating the world’s creatures, its gifts, as of equal importance to us.  This begins by recognizing that tree and plants have agency.  They perceive, relate, and communicate; they exercise various qualities we normally ascribe to sentience, wisdom, intelligence.  By noting how trees, animals, and even fungi – any and all nonhuman species – have this agency, we can acknowledge that they deserve as much regard as we accord ourselves.  We can continue pushing our earth out of balance, with greenhouse gases accelerating each year, or we can regain balance by acknowledging that if we harm one species, one forest, one lake, this ripples through the entire complex web.  Mistreatment of one species is mistreatment of all.  The rest of the planet has been waiting patiently for us to figure that out.” (p.294)

          “Trees need to be near one another, to establish in receptive soil, to join together to build the ecosystem, mix with other species, relate in patterns that produce a wood-wide web, because the forest becomes resilient from this complexity. Scientists now are more willing to say that forests are complex adaptive systems, comprised of many species that adjust and learn, that include legacies such as old trees and seed banks and logs, and these parts interact in intricate dynamic networks, with information feedbacks and self-organization.  The properties of an ecosystem breathe with health, productivity, beauty, spirit.  Clean air, clean water, fertile soil.  The forest is wired for healing in this way, and we can help if we follow her lead.” (p. 300)

          “The wind whipped through the needles of the Mother Tree, but she stood steadfast.  She had seen nature in countless forms: hot summer days when mosquitoes swarmed; rain that came in sheets for weeks; snow so heavy some of her branches snapped; periods of drought followed by long damp spells…  She would be here for a hundred more years, guiding the recovery, giving it her all, long after I was gone.  Farewell, dear Mama.  Tired, I fumbled to do up my vest.  My [grown daughter] Hannah slung her heavy pack over her shoulders, adjusting the load and cinching the buckles barely noticing the weight.

          She took my shovel to lighten my burden and gripped my hand to lead us back home.” (p. 303)

MEDITATION

When I Am Among the Trees

When I among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

    but walk slowly and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.

       Mary Oliver, Thirst

(How and where could we be simple, and go easy, and let our light shine?)

There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.

~ Anonymous

(Let us imagine ourselves in the forest, existing with the trees, or perhaps BEING a tree, being still and listening to God’s music.)

As we breathe out what trees breathe in,
And the trees breathe out what we breathe in,
So we breathe each other into life, We and You.

~ by Marcia Prager

(Imagine that our breath flows into the trees surrounding us, and the trees give back their breath to us.  Imagine that we also give life to each other, nearby friends, those at a distant, loved ones, and co-workers – we give God’s love as we live and breathe together.  Where have you felt that kind of giving and receiving love?)

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me . . .

The strength of fire,

the freshness of morning,

the taste of salmon,

the trail of the sun,

and the life that never goes away,

they speak of me.

And my heart soars.

~ Chief Dan George

(Just let your heart soar, imagining yourself surrounded by nature and by God’s unfailing, always-pouring-out love.)

Holy Mother Earth, the trees and all nature are witnesses of your thoughts and deeds.

~ A Winnebago Wise Saying

(Imagine the earth as our Mother.  Imagine God as our Mother, as the Birther of all that exists, all creatures and things, even stones.  Imagine being held in love by that Mother God.)

The rooting (of trees, of our selves) is as important and as necessary as the rising. We have the opportunity to sink roots into soul and rise up with branches in heaven…

Our spiritual growth is meant to go in both directions, toward the fertile darkness and the glorious light, each of us having the opportunity to bridge earth and heaven—the underworld and the upperworld—through the trunks of our middleworld lives….

There’s no conflict between spirit-centered being and soulful doing, between transcendence and inscendence. Each supports and enhances the other. Like Rilke, we discover we can have both:

You see, I want a lot
Maybe I want it all;
The darkness of each endless fall,
The shimmering light of each ascent.

~ from SOULCRAFT by Bill Plotkin

(Imagine drawing strength from deep within yourself, from deep within the earth, even from times of darkness and troubles.  Imagine finding strength from such times and from the earth.  Then imagine yourself rising, like a tree, stretching your branches, your life, your loves and passions, toward heaven.)

Consider the life of trees.

Aside from the axe, what trees acquire from [humans] is inconsiderable. What

[humans] acquire from trees is immeasurable. From their mute forms there flows a

poise, a silence, a lovely sound and motion in response to wind. What peace comes to

those aware of the voice and bearing of trees! Trees do not scream for attention. A

tree, a rock, has no pretense, only a real growth out of itself, a close communion

with the universal spirit. A tree retains a deep serenity. It establishes in the

earth not only its root system but also those roots of its beauty and its unknown

consciousness. Sometimes one may a sense a glisten of that consciousness, and with

such perspective may feel that [humanity] is not the highest form of life.

—Cedric Wright

(Consider that the oldest, biggest trees- the Mother Trees- not only give humans physical things (oxygen) but spiritual things (peace, beauty) along with sending communications – water, nutrients, ways to upgrade RNA – to kin and non-kin trees.  Can we honor trees as sentient beings? Can we copy their selfless giving?)

I lie down and sob and… very gradually it happens. The life in the trees and grass and the warm rocks enters my body and joins me to them. One morning, I sit up and see the incandescent trees in silent communion with each other, immersed in love. This is the world, I think, the real world. Whatever happens to me, the world is still this luminous mystery.

~ from THE SUBTLE SELF by Judith Blackstone

(Think on times of difficulty, of feeling unloved or empty.  Then let Nature surround you in imagination.  Imagine being fed and strengthened, loved and filled by the earth and by the Divine One.)

Blessed are the men and women
    who are planted on Your earth in Your garden,
Who grow as Your trees and flowers grow,
    who transform their darkness to light.
Their roots plunge into darkness;
    their faces turn toward the light.
All those who love You are beautiful;
    they overflow with Your presence
    so that they can do nothing but good.
There is infinite space in Your garden;
    all men, all women are welcome here;
    all they need do is enter.

~ from THE ENLIGHTENED HEART by Stephen Mitchell

Feel welcomed, just as you are -with your loves, hopes, desires, and longings – by Mother Earth and Mother God.)

What I wear is my clothes.
What I do is live.
How I pray is breathe…
Up here in the woods is seen the Word.
That is to say, the wind comes through
the trees and you breathe it.

~ from DAY OF A STRANGER by Thomas Merton

(Imagine the wind as God’s breath, strengthening and surrounding you.)

A circle of trees . . . I felt I was bringing the journey home to the ordinary dimensions of my life, rooting it in the place I lived every day.  I lay back on the earth and looked up through the branches of an oak, feeling suddenly like the sun was my own heart pulsing up there with light.  Wind swirled, and it seemed to me it was my own breath billowing through the branches.  The crocus bulbs were buried in my tissue, the cedars growing from my body.  The birds flew inside me.  Stones sat along my bones . . . a jubilant, stunning loss of boundary, a deeper sense of oneness than I’d ever felt.

I knew that I was part of one vast, universal quilt; I knew that this quilt was itself, the Holy Thing, the manifestation of the Divine One.  And I loved this universal quilt, every stitch, color, and fiber, with a heartbreaking love.  It was one clear moment in time, like going to the Deep Ground that underlies all things and seeing, really seeing, what is and being pierced by the unbounded nature of it.

~ from THE DANCE OF THE DISSIDENT DAUGHTER by Sue Monk Kidd

(Feel that you are a part of one great Unity, of all that is, all that exits, and will be, always held in Divine Love.)

The peace in the sky, the peace in mid-air,
the peace on the earth, the peace in the waters,
the peace in the plants, the peace in the forest trees,
the peace in the angels, the peace in the Beloved,
the peace in all things
the peace in peace …
May that peace come to me!

~ from EVERY EYE BEHOLDS YOU, edited by Thomas J Craughwell

(Spend just a few moments in silence, letting the peace from God and nature seep in and fill you.)