with spring being here, it is easier for us to get outside and to enjoy the beautiful weather, when it is not raining at least. to get up, to head outside, to breathe in the fresh morning air, to be warmed by the warm sunshine, and to stretch our legs on a nice walk.
or if you are not a morning person, it is nice to come home after school in the spring, eat dinner, do homework, and right before the sun makes its final appearance, head outside for a nice long walk. there is just something about being outside in the spring.
is it because maybe after 4-5 long months of cold, snowy and icy weather, we can finally go outside without a jacket on? or could it be that after many months of plants lying dormant, things are beginning to bloom? we walk outside and we smell the honeysuckle, we see the purples and pinks, and now even, a little yellow, as flowers and dandelions begin to bloom.
personally, one aspect of being outside i enjoy in the spring is how one man's garbage can be a...
the other day i was on my daily walk with silas when i noticed something off to the right creeping ever so slowly as silas and i approached. at first i didn't think anything of it but with each step i began to get a better look at what i thought was a leaf or a piece of old paper. once silas and i got up to this brown and gray object, i realized that what i thought was a piece of garbage/debris, was actually a baby rabbit sitting all alone in the sun, soaking it up. luckily i noticed it before silas did and we slipped on by without disturbing the little fellow.
as we continued to walk i thought about how wonderful it is to see new life all around us: in the baby birds chirping from the robin's nest, to the little plants in my neighbors garden stretching ever so tall to the sun, life is all around us. had i just assumed it was what i thought it was, i would not have had the revelation of god's goodness coming to us in creation.
this sunday it will be pentecost, the day the holy spirit was poured out upon the church, but until then, we are still in easter, having just worshiped on the 7th sunday of easter. we continue to acknowledge the resurrection of jesus christ from the tomb 2,ooo+ years ago, and the way we encounter the resurrected one today. isn't it fitting how the liturgical year compliments the seasons which accompany it? especially in the spring, we can be reminded of just how much we are connected to nature and all of the other creatures around us.
imagine this for a moment: that indeed we are connected to all creation. that everything you did outside, all the products you used, all the choices you made in fact does affect creation and its inhabitants. would how you go about your everyday be changed? when you walked outside and saw the flock of geese flying overhead in the late autumn months, would you stop and gaze a little longer, being inspired by their honking as they fly over? or the community of ants working ever so hard to get the things they need in order for their community to survive, would you stop and give thanks for the ways we benefit from their diligence?
as we begin to add to our repertoire of spiritual disciplines and as we continue to do the difficult task of tending to God's presence within us, thomas merton says we will begin to see the holiness in the world around us. seeing in this way has power, because we no longer encounter the world only as a physical reality but a revelation of love. "such seeing has the power to transfigure the world and, at the same time, deepen our respect for nature.' we seek harmony with the universe rather than domination, and we walk with a sense that the ground underfoot is truly holy.
much can be discovered in nature: not only about god but ourselves too. merton goes on to suggest that if we open our hearts to the fact that we are part of nature and called to kinship with all, we will begin to see the transformation which awaits us in all of the created order. "one of the most important--and most neglected--elements in the beginnings of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us in the creatures of God."
to come alive to the splendor that is all around us in the creatures of god....
what more does god want for us than for god's children to be completely themselves and to come alive. perhaps then, we can learn how to do this by taking notice of birds of the sky, the fish in the water, the flowers of the fields, and the roots of a tall oak tree. in doing so, in our attempts to see the presence of god in the mundane, ordinary things of life, perhaps we will encounter paradise, heaven if you will. if we have god dwelling with us, making our souls god's paradise, then the world around us can also become for us what is was meant to be for the first of the garden--god's paradise.
i encourage you then, this weekend, to go outside, take a pen and journal with you, and sit, listen, watch what is going on around you. in the stillness that his nature, listen for the still, small voice whispering in the depths of your being and take note. as you do, maybe you will be reminded of who you are and become fully alive with all creation.