Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Kind of Prayer

Say what you will about Mother Nature, but she is always fair when it comes to this one thing: when she pommels you with a major tropical storm one day, she immediately follows up with a crystal-clear blue sky, bright sunshine, low humidity, and a gentle breeze the next. The Washington, D.C. area currently is experiencing a particularly glorious day-after-the-storm. There is absolutely nothing about this day not to like.

But you know what? Although it interfered slightly with my ability to be outdoors, I actually liked yesterday's stormy aspect quite a bit, too. I found it very comforting to know that the rain was watering the crops and replenishing the water table, and in so doing making human life in this part of the world possible. Remembering the vital role of the rain and watching it, mostly from the safety of my home, put me in a very relaxed and contemplative mood.

As I walked my dogs in the crisp, cool morning air earlier today, I thought about the contrasting styles of beauty that yesterday and today offer. Appreciating whatever is happening in nature at the moment is something that I find myself doing on a regular basis these days, and my powers of appreciation are heightened when I am outside walking. Even after walking my dogs for over an hour in the morning, I often will go for another long walk in the National Arboretum so that I can get a better feel for what nature is doing at the moment.

When I focus on nature in this manner, I always am saying "thank you" to the universe for the current state of the world. Sometimes I also am looking for a more balanced way to exist in the world as I find it -- my walks provide a wonderful opportunity to release anger, to calm restlessness, to assuage sadness, to sort through confusion, to revel in happiness, to appreciate a moment of peace, to share uncontainable joy, and to cultivate thoughts of love. Through my observances of nature, I become acutely aware of the divine without, the divine within, and the inextricable links between them. I begin to glimpse the sublime oneness of people and things that I normally would view as separate and distinct, and I wish only good things for this collective union and all its constituent parts. This is the manner in which I pray, and the more often I do it the more I begin to think of life as one continuous prayer.


Barbara said...

You've just convinced me that I need to walk more often. Living in the suburbs, it's so easy just to jump into a car when I need to go somewhere, to let my dog out into our fenced yard when he needs to run. I tend to shy away from the hottest part of the day because of recurring skin cancer, but there are many beautiful times of the day when the sun is not so strong. I never thought of prayer in this way, but it all makes so much sense. Thank you for this insight.

Reya Mellicker said...

As I always say, the weather here in the midatlantic explains everything. I love weather!! Amen!