Dear God, please reveal to us
your sublime
beauty

that is everywhere, everywhere, everywhere

so that we will never again
feel frightened.

St. Francis of Assisi
Trans. by Daniel Ladinsky

 

A loud siren was booming throughout our neighborhood. I was inside the house, putting clothes into the washing machine, but the sound fulfilled its purpose. As with most people who suddenly hear an alarm, my mind immediately shifted into high alert and sifted through the possibilities for its activation. Even though my husband and I live in an area prone to earthquakes and fires, I quickly dismissed either of those options, as there had been no ground shaking, and rain was pouring down. The neighborhood dogs began to howl. Then I remembered that a prescheduled test of our town’s firehouse siren had been announced some days ago.

While it is an absolute necessity that we alert one another to impending danger—especially with the preponderance of natural disasters—I wonder what our world would be like if humans had invented “sublime beauty” alerts. If we had regular sirens for every stunning natural occurrence, we’d be enveloped in constant awe of everything that sustains us.

Instead, we have used our ingenuity for threat alerts. Not the necessary ones like my neighborhood firehouse alarm, but a stream of promises to soothe every fear—be better looking, more productive, healthier, richer, more balanced, calmer, or happier. The modern commercial space subtly taps into our woes and wraps us into the comfort of their brand’s product, app, or service. As a result, our lifestyles and habits rarely bring us in direct touch with nature.  Our food is pre-packaged, our outdoor exercise requires equipment, our contemplation relies on apps.

Somehow, humanity has allowed itself to become enamored with cleverness—forgetting that homo sapiens refers to “wise human,” not “clever human.” Other species sing praises to the co-existence of all of life in an abundance of glorious shapes, forms, sounds, and fragrances. There are upheavals and invasiveness in other species, but we are unique in our trail of efforts to conquer, outsmart, and ignore the sacredness of all of life.  We need the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi more than ever to bring us back in sync with one another, the planet, the divine, and ourselves.

The daffodil is where I choose to begin the re-righting of my human perspective, from a separatist to a holistic view. It is among the first spring blooms and is lauded around the world as a messenger of renewal and abundance. Its trumpet-shaped crown is an uplifting announcement of the unfolding of new energy and hope.  It inspires me to tune into the wise messages that nature has to share.   I hope you will join me.

Practice
This practice supports appreciation of your everyday surroundings.

Prepare—

  • This practice involves both being seated and standing. Choose a place that has minimal distractions. If comfortable, remove your shoes and socks.
  • Begin seated, with a gentle lift through the spine.
    • If in a chair, place both feet on the floor.
  • Look around the room, listen to the sounds, feel the air and the texture of your clothing on your skin.
    • Do this as though you are looking at, listening to, and being with cherished friends.
  • Place one palm on your heart and then the other on top.
    • Breathe a few breaths.
    • Relax through your palms, jaw, eyes, shoulders and torso.
  • Release your hands to your thighs.
    • Breathe free and easy.
    • Breathing, say to yourself, “I am in the midst of friends. The earth is supporting me, the breath is nourishing me, the space around me is enfolding me with love.”

Practice—

  • Remember, you are in the midst of friends who support, nourish, and enfold you in love.
  • Slowly begin to walk around the room.
    • Let each step be a gesture of your respect for the floor.
      • If it is wooden, acknowledge the trees that were the source of the wood.
      • If concrete, acknowledge the riverbeds and water formed the rocks and sand for the concrete.
      • Acknowledge the workers and their hands that built the floor.
    • Keep a gentle breath. After couple dozen steps, pause.
      • (No worries about counting the exact number of steps. An approximate amount is fine.)
    • Walk for another dozen or so steps.
      • Acknowledge the walls, the ceiling, and their sources. Acknowledge the air and the trees that cleanse the air. Pause.
    • Stand by your chair.
      • Acknowledge the source of all life. Acknowledge God, or whatever you consider to be most supreme.
      • Imagine you are filled with love and kindness.

Transition Back into Your Day—

  • Seated, place both of your feet on the floor.
    • Relax your palms in your lap.
    • Allow your eyes to close, or to be gently open with a soft gaze. Breathe.
  • After a few moments, return to your day.

H E A R T H reflections are posted each new and full moon.  In celebrating the one-year anniversary of Our Inherited Wisdom:  54 Inspirations from Nature and Poetry by Kate Vogt, this post is an excerpt of that book, pages 9-12.  The photo is by Marian Kroell.

If you would like to know about the philosophical underpinnings of these H E A R T H reflections, this Spring I am offering an online study group:  “Spring Wisdom Circle,” 5 Thursdays, May 6-June 10, 2021, 3:15-4:45 p.m. PT.   Please contact me for more information.

 

 

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