Voice of God, Voice of the Earth


Yesterday I played on the trampoline with two of my little granddaughters.  We laughed so much.  We spent part of the time lying on our backs watching the little cedar helicopter seeds spin slowly down on us as the wind blew.

Fall is arriving.  Today is the Autumn Equinox.  And right on schedule, the rain started last night and will continue, at least through today.  It’s reassuring, especially given the changes in local weather patterns due to climate change.

I didn’t let the rain deter me this morning from my usual practice of praying outside.  I set up a blanket and my meditation pillow out on the deck under the eaves, and all my senses immediately engaged in the drama taking place all around.  The wind, rain, trees, a few birds that weren’t hunkered down, even a single burst of lightning and a rumble of thunder–they all played their parts.

For me, prayer is more listening than talking to God.  Prayer can mean being at peace in the present while eagerly open to divine communication.  God’s communication sometimes comes to me as call, clarity, insight, comfort, or assurance of God’s love.  But often the “message” is simply silence, spaciousness, that paradoxical “emptiness” that the Buddhists talk about, full of what Christians call the Holy Spirit.

Yesterday I heard God’s voice in the laughter of my grandchildren, and in my own laughter.  This morning I heard God’s voice in the voice of the Earth.  There is no separation.  The voice is one and the same.

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Teach Us to Sit Still

Ash Wednesday, Part 2

yuba river

“Spirit of the River” (South Fork-Yuba River)

Every year on Ash Wednesday, Guari and I read T. S. Eliot’s poem “Ash Wednesday” aloud.  The poem brilliantly portrays the dual Lenten focus on repentance and acceptance of our mortality. It expresses a sense of dust and ashes, of hopelessness, of powerlessness to change. These feelings resonate with many people facing the pain and challenges of the world today.  But then, in the poem, surprisingly:

The lost heart stiffens and rejoices

for the lost lilac and the lost sea voices

and the weak spirit quickens to rebel

for the bent goldenrod and the lost sea smell

quickens to recover the cry of quail

and the whirling plover.

The earth has the power to call us back to life, through the divine Spirit that moves through creation. In some mysterious way, the earth can provide us with an antidote to despair and can renew our spiritual connection with what is deepest within our souls. It is our context, our “ground of being,” through which the Spirit touches us,  reminding us of what is real and important, who we are, and with whom we are connected.

Teach us to sit still,

even among these rocks,

our peace in His will.

And even among these rocks,

Sister, Mother, and spirit of the river, spirit of the sea

Suffer me not to be separated,

And let my cry come unto Thee.

(This blog posting includes excerpts from Shaking the Gates of Hell.)