by Christine Sine
Have you had your awe and wonder sighting for today? If not it’s time to go out and take notice. Last week I commented: “Our daily experience of life, God and God’s world are meant to inspire us with awe and wonder. Our failure to notice the miracles around us is a failure of the spirit as well as the senses.” And today is Earth Day, a fitting celebration for the day after Easter and a great way to begin our awe and wonder challenge.
This is the season for noticing and responding in awe to the presence of Jesus in us, and around us, not just in people we meet but in the creation as well. Jesus is constantly appearing in our midst but we rarely seem to take notice.
My Senses Are Awakened to Read God’s Presence.
In The Gift of Wonder, I talk about the practice of Lectio Tierra, a great way to attune our senses to the wonder of God. This practice is similar to Lectio Divina from which it is adapted. As I wander through the forest, brush against my lavender or listen to the music of water cascading over rocks, my senses are awakened to”read” God’s presence. Anything that catches my attention and shimmers with the presence of God provides fuel for reflection.
My eyes are drawn to the gnarled and twisted branches of my ancient sage bush. I stop, look and listen, not forcing a revelation but waiting in silence for God to nudge me. I reach out and pick a leaf, and gasp in awe at the fragrance that clings to my fingers. What story does it hold I wonder? How might it speak to me of God?
Now I Meditate
Now I meditate. I crush the leaf between my fingers and am transported back in time. Sage has a very long and rich history due to both its medicinal and culinary uses. At one time, the French produced bountiful crops of sage for tea. Ironically the Chinese became enamored with French sage tea, and would trade four pounds of Chinese tea for every one pound of sage tea. The Romans considered it had healing properties and for native Americans it is an important ceremonial plant, used by many tribes as an incense and purifying herb. I know it best for its culinary properties. I love to use it when I roast chicken or make vegetable soup.
It is possible that the burning bush in Exodus 3 is sage I remember. Should I like Moses take off my shoes as I meditate and acknowledge that in the presence of this small part of God’s creation I stand on holy ground?
Now I pray. I thank God for this gift to so many cultures across the globe and throughout time and am reminded of Revelation 8:4 “The smoke of the incense mixed with the prayers of God’s people and billowed up before God.” I thank God for the fragrance that clings to me, and for the incense that rises from my life as I too am crushed and prepared for use. Perhaps others will brush against me and be awed by the incense of God in my life. Perhaps others will seek me out to add to their lives and savor who they are with the presence of God. I hope that my fragrance and flavor will continue to cling to others and be shared with all that I meet.
Lastly I contemplate
The last step is contemplation. I pause, running my hands over the fragrant fragments in my hand. I look around at the other plants in my garden. Some are greening after a long winter’s rest. Others are in bloom vibrant with color and fragrant with their own perfume.I am not alone. Incense rises to God from every part of this garden. I breathe in and absorb the insights God has given me that enable me to move into a place of rest and peace. I can receive love, healing and grace from God, together with those around me, and with the witnesses of every tribe and nation that have gone before me. I feel at one with God’s world and will all that help me move towards God’s wholeness.
I finish with this Ute prayer that I found many years ago and my heart overflows with thanksgiving
Earth Teach Me to Remember
Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth Teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep in the rain.
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