Yesterday, for the first time in a long while, I walked Tohbi along the state beach path near the Monterey Tides Hotel – and basked in the beauty of our area. It was a walk I took almost daily prior to Covid, when the state beach parking lots were locked down and the street parking was always full. It’s a perfect 20-30 minute walk up over the hill to the Del Monte walking path and back again – offering an amazing view of our bay and an opportunity to breathe deeply into gratitude.
And then this morning, I read Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation - Week Three on this year’s theme: A Connected Universe – “A Part of Nature,” featuring writer, Sophfronia Scott, reflecting on Thomas Merton’s deep connection to God, particularly through nature… And I realized how blessed we are to be live in one of the most scenic areas in the world…as we seek to know God.
Scott asks, “How can we use nature to cultivate an awareness of God? How do we enter a space of reverence, where there are no walls and no ceilings and yet where we find a room we share with Creator Spirit?” And noted that “Merton had pondered this as well that first day walking in the forest:
‘And I thought: if we only knew how to use this space and this area of sky and these free woods.’
She then goes on to describe Merton’s practice, which we could also engage, in three parts:
“going out every day and walking the earth in a sacred manner—with [our] whole being open to the feel of the earth underneath [us] and of the air around [us]” (barefoot if possible);
being “involved in an ongoing acknowledgment of the weather;” and
“learning all [we] can about the “rooms of [our] outdoor home, including the names of the flowers and trees that furnished it and the birds and animals who resided there.”
She concludes: “The assembled wisdom of these pieces brought Merton to the unity of creation and his place in it: ‘How absolutely central is the truth that we are first of all part of nature, though we are a very special part, that which is conscious of God. In solitude, one is entirely surrounded by beings which perfectly obey God.’”
Rohr then adds the following quote from “another 20th-century contemplative who experienced the unity of God’s presence through nature… Howard Thurman… who reflected:
‘The earth beneath my feet is the great womb out of which the life upon which my body depends comes in utter abundance. There is at work in the soil a mystery by which the death of one seed is reborn a thousandfold in newness of life. The magic of wind, sun and rain creates a climate that nourishes every living thing. It is law, and more than law; it is order, and more than order—there is a brooding tenderness out of which it all comes. In the contemplation of the earth, I know that I am surrounded by the love of God.’”
During these challenging times – when our human adventure is crowded with so many social, health, political, environmental (i.e., “human-made”) challenges – that can distract us from the Presence of God – I encourage us all to take advantage of the gifts of nature all around us to help us remember our true identities as Spiritual Beings and know that we always are “surrounded by the love of God.”
For the full Daily Meditation: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?tab=rm&ogbl#inbox/FMfcgzGmtXGtqkdKlKXPXCBgPHbNPrhR
Namasté – Rev. Vicky