Praying through the Seasons in Nature

by Christine Sine

by Jan Blencowe

Mushroom Group by Jan Blencoe

Mushroom Group by Jan Blencoe

It is the model of the Trinity, that beautiful dance of Divine Persons that inspires my favorite mode of prayer, dialog with the natural world. I envision that beautiful Dance as one of perfect communication. I imagine it as moving between thoughts, words, movements, intentions, and actions. I sense a wisdom, that anticipates, responds, and exists in an harmonious union.  A perfect communication grounded in love and holy motive, never misunderstood, never duplicitous, always and eternally pure and truthful.

Of course, I must rely heavily on the Spirit to sanctify and translate my humble, earthy prayers into something beautiful that will delight the heart of God. Since this lovely picture of the Trinity’s Dance of Communication remains firmly locked in the world of my own thoughts, that is to say, “stuck in my head”, I’ve had to find more embodied ways to pray, ways that use all those things that were deemed good at the very beginning.

I am the archetypal nature child, and therefore head straight out the door and into the glorious handiwork of God when I want to pray. Nature follows the existence ordained for it perfectly. We on the other hand have the blessing of choice. The choices we make snake through our lives like a labyrinth, sometimes moving us closer, sometimes further from God. I pray we will all, at the end, find ourselves in the center of Love.

The seasonal cycles that God has built into our world hold endless fascination, comfort and wisdom for me. In my nature journals I record those cycles, which in itself is a form of earthy, creative, embodied prayer. Currently, in my journal  I am turning my attention to the beginning of the dying year. The season of the dying year always speaks volumes to me and generally produces a time of deep prayer in my life.

This season, unlike any other, brings to my attention Jesus’ words “Timeless truth I speak to you: Unless a grain of wheat falls and dies in the ground, it remains alone, but if it dies, it yields much fruit.”.  That translation is from the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, and I love it because it translates the opening words not as Truly or Verily, but as Timeless truth. The cycle of life-death-rebirth is for me the crux of the matter when it comes to the spiritual life, and it’s in the pageant of seasons that I see that played out most vividly.

At this time of year I find myself praying with mushrooms. They’re abundant in the woods in September. I marvel that all year they have been there hidden from sight beneath the forest floor. I pause to remember that the Spirit’s work in me is also always going on. Sometimes it is hidden but when the Spirit softens and moistens my heart and I am ripe to receive, the work is revealed, just as mushrooms appear suddenly when the weather dampens and the season ripens.

During all of the hidden phase of their lives mushrooms are absorbing nutrients through threadlike roots from decaying trees. In the same way I am always absorbing wisdom and encouragement from the saints, those great towering trees of our faith, who remain alive but have now passed from this world.  I give thanks for the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds me. Later on when the first frosts come the mushrooms will once again die back and be hidden in the soil feeding the roots of nearby plants and trees. They will literally be recycled and take on new form.

A  new crop of mushrooms will appear briefly again in early autumn. Life-death-rebirth. These observations lead me to pray that my own brief appearance on this earth will be nourished by those faithful souls that surround me. When my body perishes and my flesh and bones are hidden in the earth, I pray that they will nourish the soil. I pray that the  words I have spoken and the deeds that I have done in my lifetime will nourish those that remain and those that come after.

Like the mushrooms that are recycled into trees I ponder with awe and wonder the reality that I too will put off this mortal body and be clothed with an immortal one. Even more mysterious is the knowledge that we have already put off the old and become new creations in Christ. So on earth as it is in Heaven, I pray with the earth through the turning  of the year finding spiritual truths in nature, praying with mushrooms and trees and all that is good.


Today’s post is part of our September Creative Prayer Series.

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