Saturday, October 27, 2012

Spirituality in Nature

Beth Norcross: Our Guide and Teacher

Everything that we need shows up exactly when we need it!

I learned about a class called Deepening Your Spirituality in Nature through one of the many email groups that I am apart of, and this class spoke to my spirit right away. I love nature, and my spirituality seems to grow deeper and stronger each day so, I knew that I needed to take this class. I checked the dates and my calender and everything lined up, and I spent two hours on Thursday night and about three hours today, with our teacher guide, Beth Norcross, and five other students.

Thursday night was completely magical for me. Beth read poems and excerpts to us and also showed us a slide show about nature. Listening to Beth and looking at the slides, I had so many epiphany moments. Moments that helped me to reach the conclusion that if we would only look at nature closely, we would see that it mimics life.

Here is the poem by Mary Oliver that Beth opened the class with title "Mindful:"

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less
kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for--
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world--
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant--
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these--
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

What a great, feel-good opening for the night's class!!

After listening to this poem and looking at the slides, I had so many thoughts about life and nature. One thought that I had was about the warm Fall colors that we see on the trees right now. Those beautiful colors that we see on trees have been there all of the time, but the true color was covered by chlorophyll in the summer. Once the chlorophyll goes to the bottom of the trees to store for winter and get ready for spring, then the true magnificent colors of the trees are revealed and that is what we see in the Fall. Some of our lives are similar. Our true selves are always there, but it may be covered with experiences that we may have had that may cover our good nature and cause us to act in ways that are not of our true nature. But, if we stay on life's course and learn its lessons, our good will show back up because it never really left; it was just covered by life experiences just like the true color of trees. This is just one of the many thoughts that I had about nature and life during the course of the class.

So, day two of the class was at Turkey Run Park. Turkey Run Park is such a wonderful little nature park that is located right outside of DC. Being in this park, I felt so many miles away from the city, but the city was just around the corner. 

Being in the woods, with our guide and teacher, was like looking into the eyes of God. At times, the feelings that I was having were overwhelming. I felt so at peace, because God was everywhere: in us, the trees, the Potomac River, in small and larger animals, and in other people who were also in this glorious, woody park.

I think a lot about life and death, and Beth made an observation in the woods that resonated with my soul and made it leap with joy. Beth picked up a decaying leaf, and she stated something like "Do you believe that anything ever dies?" She went on to explain that once the leaf was completely decayed, it would be absorbed into the soil and more life would spring from that soil; it's a continuous process. She went on to say that this process is confirmation that there is life after death; life and death are a continuous process. At that moment, my heart and soul were completely filled with joy. I've always believed that there was life after death, but it was so warming to get that confirmation again from nature. 

While in the woods, we also took turns reading verses from Psalm 104: 

Psalm 104
1 Praise the Lord, my soul.
Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
2 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
3 and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
4 He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.
5 He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
6 You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
7 But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
8 they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
9 You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth.
10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21 The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to their work,
to their labor until evening.
24 How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
27 All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.
Praise the Lord.

After meditating on the word, Beth gave us time to be alone, and then she read one of my favorite quotes from The Color Purple: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it,” and we left.

This experience was so good for my soul, and I felt a deeper understanding for Henry David Thoreau who stated in his collection of essays called Walden that "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ...."

Not sure what it is that you do for your soul, but I hope that you do something......

Seize the day my people......

By the way, Beth is doing this class again in the winter to see what nature teaches us in the winter, please, please join us.

Here are images from our trip in the woods:

People, do the things that you love to do often.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This Blog was most helpful, your ideas are straight to the point, and the colors are cool too.

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