By Kathy Keary
Our full series in the Contemplative Prayer Video Series is here.
Revisit earlier articles in our Contemplative Life Series here.
The Paschal Mystery was the center of our focus during Lent. By that, I am referring to the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. We explored how that same pattern plays out in our lives. By uniting our crosses with the cross of Christ, new life emerges. This same rhythm of dying and rising repeats in nature as well.
In the fall, the trees surrender their leaves as a sign that the death of winter is around the corner. During those long, cold days and nights when the landscape is barren, we know in our hearts that this is temporary. We long to witness the first sign of greening and budding when warm temperatures tell us it is spring. Creation slowly breaks forth as the trees take turns blossoming, and the grass is once again green. This beauty comes to fullness in the summer when the scenery is rich with vibrant colors and the bounty of the earth feeds our souls.
As we continue to celebrate Easter, today we will delve into the prayer practice of contemplative photography by beholding the new life offered by spring not only with our eyes but with our hearts.
I love this quote of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She eloquently states: “Earth’s crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God, but only they who see take off their shoes.” Today we will figuratively take off our shoes as we trod on holy ground in search of a revelation of God found in nature.
The Celts believe, as do I, that there is only a thin veil between heaven and earth. Availing ourselves to the magnificence of our Creator lifts the veil and blesses us with an encounter with the Divine. Nature becomes the sacrament or the door through which we can experience God’s presence. In the words of Pope Francis in his encyclical, Laudato Si: “The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains: everything is, as it were, a caress of God.”
I invite you to stroll through nature maybe in a park, in the wilderness, in your neighborhood, or perhaps in your own garden. Be present to the sights, sounds, and fragrances. Gaze upon that which lures you in. Reflect on how God is being revealed to you through this scene. Does a message surface? What feelings are evoked? Perhaps you will be moved to capture the moment by taking a picture.
Then continue your stroll with eyes and heart wide open on the lookout for the next treasure that captures your attention. You may find yourself taking many pictures or perhaps just a few.
When you get back home, pick out a few of the pictures that particularly speak to you. Reflect on their significance and how God is speaking to you through them.
After witnessing the blossoming of springtime, ponder what may be blossoming in your life. Let the new life offered by this blossoming soak in.
You may have noticed that amid the flowering trees, there are trees that continue to be barren as well as trees that are just beginning to bud. How does this speak to your life right now? Are there aspects of your life that are barren or just beginning to bud that need your attention? What wisdom do you discern by studying the photos that you have chosen? Do you sense an invitation or a call?
Conclude your time of prayer giving thanks for the beauty of creation as well as this blessed time of leisure spent encountering God in the trees, the flowers, the grass, and the sunshine.
Before we conclude today, I would like to draw to your attention an opportunity that we are offering in-person or on Zoom. On June 11th, I will be facilitating a day of retreat entitled: “Stilling the Soul: Positive Ways to Manage Stress.” You are invited to join us for a relaxing day of calming activities, reflection, discussion, and fellowship. We will explore practical ways to manage stress and refresh our souls including prayer, guided meditation, silence, mindfulness, enjoying nature, focusing, and so much more. Focusing honors that wisdom lies within us and speaks to us in a way that can be felt in our bodies. By reverently caring for the feelings that surface, change that enhances life and promotes healing occurs.”
May we hold all victims of war, violence, and injustice in our prayers in particularly the people of Ukraine.
See you next week. In the meantime, may God bless your comings and your goings!
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[Kathy Keary, spiritual director, holds a bachelor’s degree in education, a master’s degree in theological studies, and completed Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the Divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the Divine within. She enjoys accompanying others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]
Photo 176634836 / Budding © Soleg1974 | Dreamstime.com
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