Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sacred...The Holy...All...In Nature.

"The natural world is the material source of our being….(it) is the larger sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human." So wrote Thomas Berry. Edward Abbey has written, "Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit." I do not understand a great deal of what Albert Einstein has written,but the following I like: "Look! loo! deep into nature and you will understand everything". Forty nines years ago, I know these quotes would not appear on my radar. Today they speak to me. They speak and a part of me can see,understand, and give assent to the truth they so wonder-fully express. So, then, one could rightly say there have been serious changes in the way I viewed, and now view, the world of nature. There has been an ongoing evolution over these many years. It all began when I had to give up golf. Golf was great, but there was something missing from the experience. Yes, one was out in nature, but you were not deeply connected. I was, as if it was by accident, you were surprised by the beauty of your surroundings. It happened now and then. I would be caught up with a ‘wow, that is neat” statement, and then go back to see what had to be done to par the hole. The one golf hole that really caused me to slow down and enjoy the experience of walking the fairway, was the fourth hole, on the south course, in Torrey Pines, San Diego. Even though I have not played golf for many years, I still have fond memories of walking that fairway, which in reality is a bluff overlooking the sea. It was great to have the warm sun in my face, cool sea breeze gently blowing, and a good cigar in my mouth, all was right with the world. It was good to be alive. The cares were all concentrated on hitting a shot that would enable me to get on that tough green up ahead. It is one of the better 400 yard holes I have ever played. Looking back, it was not what I shot on the hole, but the experience of the walk, that has stayed with me over these many years. " Every blessing is curse, and every curse is a blessing." (You see that a lot here. !!! ) When I was no longer able to play golf, like i used to, I was lost. Golf was a great part of my life. It was something that, sad to say, helped to define me. (Even to this day, some people will ask me, "how is your golf game?" ) I started to walk. Had to, my cardiologist demanded it. I was not in good shape, so he asked for an hour a day. Well that “heart challenge" opened a whole new way of living for me. That new way of acting opened me up to a whole new way of thinking. I no longer had golfing holidays. I now had stories from hiking holidays to share. I now belong to the hiking community. This community numbers 60,000,000 here in Americans alone. That is a very large community indeed, and so very diverse. When you begin a hike there is no one looking to see if you are of the right race, the right income bracket, sexual orientation, religion, political party, etc.etc. On the trail, we are all one. Each one is on our own hike, each hiking according to our own unique, God given abilities. On the trail there are no judgements, but there is a lot of concern. On the trail individuality and community have an encounter. That encounter celebrates a certain Presence, in the awe inspiring, wonder-full cathedral, of the great outdoors. There, we become aware of a Presence, that eludes us in so many other places. In the silence of this cathedral something happens that touches, renews, and refreshes us. That is why we can call all of nature a great sacrament. The place where we meet God. There is the danger, however, this can and is, taken a little too far. I saw a bumper sticker this week that stated, "Nature is God". No nature is not God, but because He/She is the creating force, God is IN nature. Nature is a great healer. It is another way God reaches out to each one, as an individual, drawing us all in one great holy, sacred community. I have found out that Joe, like everybody else, does not have to do anything. This is a very big blow to Joe's ego. Just place one foot in front of the other, for as long as you can or want, and don't be a busybody, wanting to know what is happening. There will, in time but not in our time (darn it) come a new of understanding, leading to a new way of acting. We will see changes in our relationships. We will begin to treat ourselves differently, and as a consequence we will have a change in our relationships with others. You gain confidence in your abilities, as well as becoming aware of your limitations. On the trail ,if you are smart ,healthy, you will ask for help and directions. As it is on the trail, so it is with life, all life, wherever we may live and experience it . Our religious celebrations will be affected with this new spiritual awareness. The prayers, readings (especially The Psalms) will speak to us in a new and more vibrant, and life giving way. This will demand more of priests, ministers, and leaders of community prayer. There has to be a better job done of connecting the indoor celebration of the sacred, with the outdoor encounter, with that same Reality. Liturgy is "the work of the people", we will make their work so much easier when we connect their encounter with the sacred in their everydayness. As we demonstrate our reverence for sacredness, their reality, hopefully they will become more open to Sacred's Presence in the reality of word, sacrifice, and sacrament.