The interior place where we experience God

The interior place where we experience God is the same kind of place, and as real, as the place where we experience music and poetry.
~ Karen Armstrong

Sabbath

Most people mistakenly believe that all you have to do to stop working is not work. The inventors of the Sabbath understood that it was a much more complicated undertaking. You cannot downshift casually and easily. This is why the Puritan and Jewish Sabbaths were so exactingly intentional. The rules did not exist to torture the faithful. They were meant to communicate the insight that interrupting the ceaseless round of striving requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will, one that has to be bolstered by habit as well as by social sanction.

~ Judith Shulevitz

April 2019 (Vol. XXXII, No. 4)

Dear Friends ~ Spring, with all its re-greening, heralds stirrings of hope. Whether you see the relationship between humanity and the rest of nature as reciprocal or destructive, whether you feel despair at the impending sixth extinction or confidence that we can restore our connection to one of mutual respect and healing; the earth still waits, still sends forth green shoots, still pulses and burbles and sings. Nature can be our teacher, our portal into wonder, a practice of communion rather than dominion, a path of encounter and reckoning with our true self. Above all spring is a season rife with the promise of renewal, a chance at transformation. Step outside, turn your face to the warming sun, listen for the song of the goldfinch—and begin again.

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Fragrant spring of our creation

It sometimes seems to me that holiness, the quintessence of holiness, is as elusive as that strange fragrance in the air which heralds spring. We cannot define precisely where the scent lies, nor analyze exactly the color of the bird, nor yet assign to an invisible musical scale the plaintive bleat of the lamb, nor to a paint box the fleeting blue of the sky: a stirring in the blood, an impulse toward adventure, rough moorland, woodland paths... No, holiness is not to be defined. It is a living, glorious rebirth...an active condition, not a struggle with or against self, but a struggle for self, to bring oneself back, back to that pure and fragrant spring of our creation.
~ from IKONS by John Tavener and Mother Thekla

Nature heals and gives strength

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray, where nature heals and gives strength to body and soul alike.
~ John Muir
Wilderness Essays
By John Muir

To honor the sacred

The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth. Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and the body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them... To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible. To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this we dedicate our lives.
~ from THE FIFTH SACRED THING by Starhawk

Yields a new thought with every petal

The exceeding beauty of the earth, in her splendor of life, yields a new thought with every petal.
~ Richard Jefferies

All of God's creatures

All of God's creatures have divine knowledge within, even the tiniest ant, and we're all trying to get in step and march to the Divine Music.
~ from TALES OF THE HASIDIM by Martin Buber

The beauty of the earth

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
~ Rachel Carson

Take heart with the day

Every day is a fresh beginning.
Listen my soul to the glad refrain.
And, in spite of old sorrows
And older sinning,
Troubles forecasted
And possible pain,
Take heart with the day and begin again.
~ Susan Coolidge

Growing in love

Gardening can provide an opportunity to slow down, be still, breathe, and connect with another form of life. For me, it is an experience of communion; I become one with this precious life in my garden and it heightens my experience of love in the world. And that is what spirituality is all about: growing in love.
~ from GROWING MYSELF by Judith Handelsman
Growing Myself:A Spiritual Journey Through Gardening
By Judith Handelsman, Judith Handlesman

Quiet passage

All around us, life arises and decays in complicated, in-between spaces. The human challenge is to make a similar confident, quiet passage through the paradoxes of life.
~ Rick Bass
For a Little While
By Rick Bass

Your soul is alive

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has the power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.

~ Eleanor Duse

Human consciousness

Human consciousness, then, should not be what utterly separates us from the rest of "nature." Rather, consciousness is where this dance of energy organizes itself in increasingly unified ways, until it reflects back on itself in self-awareness. Consciousness is and must be where we recognize our kinship with all other beings. The dancing void from which the tiniest energy events of atomic structures flicker in and out of existence and self-aware thoughts are kin along a continuum of organized life-energy...
~ from GAIA AND GOD by Rosemary Radford Ruether

Participating in divinity

When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and exclaim, "AH," you are participating in divinity.
~ ancient Hindu text as quoted in EVERYDAY GRATITUDE

Wonder beyond words

To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe—to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it—is a wonder beyond words.
~ Joanna Macy and Molly Brown in COMING BACK TO LIFE: THE UPDATED GUIDE TO THE WORK THAT RECONNECTS

The earth delights

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Something of the marvelous

In all things of nature
there is something
of the marvelous.
~ Aristotle

The heart of the universe

Throughout my life, by means of my life, the world has little by little caught fire in my sight, until, a flame all around me, it has become almost luminous from within. Such has been my experience in contact with the Earth. The diaphany of the divine at the heart of the universe on fire.
~ from THE HEART OF THE MATTER by Teilhard de Chardin
The Heart of Matter
By Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

March 2019 (Vol. XXXII, No. 3)

Dear Friends ~ Spending five weeks in India has made me acutely aware of how much I take for granted and even expect from life. Being able to drink clean water, a shelter with heat in winter, breathable air, space to walk, trash out of sight, food in my belly... When I was little my mother used to repeat a line I suspect she may have heard from her own mother, "I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." At five or six years old I didn't get it. Seeing up close abject poverty, unbearable squalor, and folks dragging useless legs on filthy ground with flip flops on their hands—it begins to sink in. I did nothing to deserve being born into this life of mine any more than the forlorn toddler hanging at her imploring mother's side did to be born into a slum beside the railroad tracks. Here's another saying: "There but for the grace of God, go I." Yet why should I have been extended the grace of God and not them?

We are simple dust and spirit

The word humility, like the human, comes from humus, or earth. We are most human when we do no great things. We are not so important; we are simple dust and spirit—at best, loving midwives, participants in a process much larger than we. If we are quiet and listen and feel how things move, perhaps we will be wise enough to put our hands on what waits to be born, and bless it with kindness and care.
~ from SABBATH by Wayne Muller

A gift to be celebrated with joy

The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
~ from THE RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL SON by Henri J. M. Nouwen

It holds together everything in love

The way of hubris . . . pretends that we can be well by dispersing, by breaking down life's oneness into entirely unrelated compartments. And it pretends that we can be well by depriving, by denying to others and to other species what we ourselves most cherish. "By way of contrast," says Hildegard [of Bingen], "humility does not rob people or take anything from them. Rather, it holds together everything in love." The way of humility . . . remembers the sacred Ground of being within us all. And it knows that we will be truly well to the extent that we love one another.
~ from A NEW HARMONY by John Philip Newell

Cooperation and humbleness always go together

Cooperation and humbleness always go together. Humbleness is seeing that everyone's path through earth school is as difficult as yours, and as important. It is not pretending that you are meek, or inferior. It is making the music together that cannot be made alone, and that cannot be made without the music that only you, alone, can make.
~ from SOUL STORIES by Gary Zukav
Soul Stories
By Gary Zukav

To remind us who we are

We need a coat with two pockets. In one pocket there is dust, and in the other pocket there is gold. We need a coat with two pockets to remind us who we are.
~ a Hasidic tale
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