The human spirit is somehow enhanced, transformed, liberated, excited, as it experiences the mystery and the majesty to be encountered in the cathedral of the great outdoors. Like all great cathedrals it has many chapels. In large cathedrals people go from chapel to chapel and end at the place where they feel a special connection with a presence greater than themselves. The cathedral of the great outdoors offers us many chapels. Some enjoy the mountains, lakes, rivers and streams. Others prefer the desert [this is a great gift if you live in Arizona]. God seems to have a preference for the desert. We see in the story of God and His chosen people in the Old Testament how in the desert they were courted and purified. We see in the New Testament how the men who watched the stars came to the knowledge of an evening that changed world. God had decided to join His creation.
In the wilderness we are spoken to in the silence. We are brought to awe and wonder as we gaze at what is offered to us. Wherever there is wonder and awe, a spiritual response has been awakened within us. Where the spirital response has been awakened within us, we have been gifted with the knowledge there is a Presence here greater than ourselves. This place has become a holy place for us. These places in Celtic spirituality are called "thin places". That is why it has been a great discussion between those who say, “it is only in nature I can meet God” and those who say “it is only in church I meet my God”. Why cannot it be both/and rather than either/or? When we get into the either/or we are looking for a winner and a loser. That is religiosity. When we are prepared to live in attention of the both/and then we are taking up residence in the realm of the spiritual. The spiritual journey is all about the both/and.
My pre-Christian ancestors had a great belief “that the design pervaded every aspect of life and that spirits everywhere in ancient trees and sacred groves, mountain tops and rock formations, rivers, streams and holy wells. The Celts living close to the bodies of water with their dream-like fogs and mists also developed a respect for the mystical. They came to associate water with mystery and personal communal transformations.“ wrote Ed Selner. We are all familiar with the following words,
“Oh Lord my God, when I am in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughtout the earth displayed.
Then sings my soul, my
Savior God, to Thee,
How great thou art, how
great thou art,
When through the woods,
and forest glades I wander,
and hear the birds sing
sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from
lofty mountain grandeur
and see the brook, and feel
the gentle breeze
Then sings my soul….”
These words celebrate in our religious experience what has been our experience in the great outdoors. Our liturgy becomes a liturgy with soul because it connects with our everyday experience.
A dreamer's journey continues....