What Nature Reveals

August 1, 2010

"Benedictine prayer is designed to enable people to realize that God is in the world around them." Joan Chittister

“Morning and evening, season by season, year after year we watch the sun rise and set, death and resurrection daily come and go, beginnings and endings follow one another without terror and without woe.  We come to realize that we are simply small parts of a continuing creation, and we take hope and comfort and perspective from that.”
     — from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister, OSB

Nature can be another catalyst for contemplation.  Here are some photos taken during my contemplative walks around the grounds of St. John’s University:

Grace upon grace . . .

Tiger lily

"The world laughs in flowers." e e cummings

"Consciousness of God is perpetual prayer." Joan Chittister, OSB

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Faith sees a beautiful blossom in a bulb, a lovely garden in a seed, and a giant oak in an acorn." William Arthur Ward

Dragonfly poses for backside view

Dragonfly

Natural necklace of lavender blossoms

Chipmunk in a tree

Thistle down

Reflections in the lake on my walk to Morning Prayer

Dandelion wishes

“We have to learn to be mindful that creation belongs to God and we have only been put here as its keepers.”
     — from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Joan Chittister, OSB

A Confession

July 28, 2010

Small side chapel in St. John's Abbey Church

 

I don’t know what I think about God. 

I was a tiny bit concerned about the prayer portion of the retreat because I find myself extremely resistant to all of the male identifiers for God in the Bible and the traditional Catholic prayers of my childhood — “Father” this and “Lord” that, “kingdom” and “King.”  God is a mystery to me — a benevolence, a Light — but none of these words adequately express how I approach a definition of God in my mind.  But I do know in my heart that God is not just a “He.” 

So I was very reassured during the retreat by two comments in particular that resonated with me.  The first was a passage from John 1: 18, which we discussed during a morning prayer practice:  “No one has ever seen God.”  And the second came during Kathleen’s discussion about pursuing a more contemplative life, when she said, “Renounce your thoughts about God, for God is beyond all thoughts.”  

St. John's Abbey Guest House, a wall of light and shadow

 

I can be okay with leaving God undefined in my life. 

Emerging from the clouds into the great, infinite blue