I wasn’t really raised in a church, but my mother did drag my brother, sister and I to every known denomination on the planet. I grew up, keenly aware that some had discovered a profound relationship with a higher being. The longing for the ethereal, the holy and sublime, was nestled into my psyche early on. It was something I yearned for.
And song! Even my maiden name, “Sheaves”, the title of this blog, was a hymn sung in church. A song of the seasons, of rejoicing. A song of inspiration and bounty, one of victory and prosperity. This is what has shaped my personal beliefs. It has formed me into a person who believes that God is everywhere and resides in every living thing. Trees, clouds, rocks, planets, animals and yes, us humans. We were all divinely created.
I learned once, as a young adult, to praise God for everything. Not just the good, which was slim in my life, but to praise him in all things. To give thanks for the things I didn’t particularly like or welcome. To rejoice in those things that happen to us that don’t seem fair, but unjust. Why? Because gratitude begets gratitude. I came to understand, if I could not praise God for a sink of dirty dishes, that was evidence of keeping me fed, how could I ever be expected to live a life of abundance?
Don’t get me wrong, my life has, in some years, been a series of unfortunate events. I was in a head on collision before I turned 20. I didn’t understand at the time that it was that car accident that lead to the discovery of a huge cyst growing inside my abdomen. Looking back, it was that discovery that most likely allowed me to give birth, later in life. There is always a silver lining. We may not be privy to those life lessons, but the Almighty knows. Our lives are entangled with gifts from the divine even when life is difficult and hard to understand.
One of my favorite churches to visit as a child was the Episcopal church. I was enthralled with the giving of the sacrament during communion. It wasn’t a broken cracker in a dish that everyone ate from, or grape juice from a mini cup. It was given individually by the priest to every congregant. And each person drank from the holy cup, sanctified and offered to all. Today I believe in the power of sacrament and I believe all things are made with the knowledge and the yearning for the sacred.
“Rituals like the sharing of bread and wine to celebrate our communion with the sacred and one another need to be expanded to invite us into our kindred communion with all of life.” The Church of the Wild by Victoria Loorz
For me, the sacred can be found in nature’s irrefutable interconnection. I find the quiet stillness to be God’s cathedral in a way that invites all beings to partake of His holiness. If I can’t find God on a mountaintop, how will I ever find Him in church? It is a way for us to be restored to the “peace that passes understanding”. It is a holy balm that comforts and binds our joys and our sorrows and transforms them into tears of gratitude and joy.
When I am in nature, accompanied by birdsong and the whisper of trees, God, in all His purity and glory, takes the pulpit to restore and bind each of us to Him and to each other. But what if the trees and the mountain forests disappear, what will happen to His followers? To believers like myself?
“For thousands of years we have struggled with the human condition under the assumption that this earthly condition, whatever its faults, would continue (forever)…….But now, for the first time in human history, we are living at a juncture where the twin realities of climate crisis and habitat destruction are so far-reaching that the basic web of biological connections required to support life on earth are swiftly breaking down. People are rightfully experiencing unprecedented anxiety and despair as we contemplate our place on this planet”. Rooted, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Regular, or any deep experience of nature has become absent from most people’s lives. Up to 90% of human waking hours are spent indoors or in their cars. A mere 7% is spent walking in nature.
“The poetry of earthen life cannot reach its fullness on a computer screen, or even in the synapses of our magnificent intellect. Our hearts are formed of a wilder clay.” Rooted by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
The earth is a sacred creation, given wholly to us for our stewardship. Perhaps we are now at a turning point from which we can never recover, or, we are at a point of awakening to the vast gifts that nature sacrifices to give us life.
If each person on earth planted 6 trees, our climate crisis would end. One tree gives enough oxygen for 10 people. And, when we drink of that cup we are filled with living breathe that nourishes us and heals us in way God designed from the beginning. He has chosen to breathe the breath of life in us through trees and their magnificent life giving reciprocal force.
In Judaism the presence of God is often described as the ruach—literally refers to the Holy Spirit, the life force of God, the wind, the breath—and how our own breath is literally dependent on the breath of trees.
Our bodies, minds, and spirits stand in ancient communion with the soil. Ways of being in nature is a way for us to be grounded with the natural world and to give thanks. For, being in an untouched, natural environment and to not be deeply affected, is impossible. God created nature that way. Hopefully, now and forever. As we partake, be mindful to nourish the part of nature that gives us food, shelter, medicine and health in mind and spirit. “Give and it shall be given, pressed down, shaken up and overflowing.” KJV
The sacred can be breathed in, tasted, touched, heard, and seen as much in the body of the earth and the body of another living being as in the body of religion. It is the true essence of all life.
The sacred Fern Forest in Cuchara, Colorado