I drive to the park to go for a walk. It is a lovely Fall day. Late morning. As I pull into the parking lot, I notice something unusual: there are no other cars around. I walk across the bridge that leads to the path that goes around the lake. Before I set off on my walk, I pause and scan the area. I see no one. No one is walking a dog, no one is jogging, no one is fishing from one of the docks. “I’m alone!” I say with excitement. “All alone!”
But as soon as I utter those words, I smile. Although I may be the only human being in the park this morning, I am certainly not alone! What about all the other living beings in the park with me? I see birds flying around—a few goldfinches and crows. I spot a group of geese sitting in the lake holding some kind of convention. I notice a couple of bees and I am startled by two grasshoppers, those masters of the broad jump. They show off their athletic prowess to me as I pass by. Whiz… kerplunk. Whiz… kerplunk.
And what about all the living things I can’t see? The bluegill and bass in the lake. The turtles I’ve met on occasion who call this lake home. Then there’s the brown and white snake I spotted a few weeks ago skimming the water along the shore. Is he (or she) here this morning, I wonder? And don’t forget the elusive deer, the rabbits, the raccoons, and the bats who are probably hanging upside down asleep in the bat house that was erected for them.
And how could I forget all the worms, beetles, snails, and slugs, and other creatures hiding in the grass or burrowing beneath the ground or living under the bark of a tree? And let’s not forget the flora—the plants and bushes of all kinds as well as the trees—the willow, oak, ash, and maple with their leaves already turning orange and red and yellow.
No, I say to myself, I am not alone. There are thousands of other living things with me today in this park. And why should I limit my awareness only to living things? What about all the so-called “inanimate” beings that are with me as I walk—the earth I tread upon, the rocks along the shore of the lake, the sun and clouds above me, the air I breathe, and the beautiful lake itself sparkling in the sun. Aren’t all of these things beings too? And where is God in all of this? I agree with what Barbara Brown Taylor writes: God is not merely responsible for this creation, this connectedness and unity I feel. Rather “God is the unity—the very energy, the very intelligence, the very elegance and passion that make it all go.”
As I walked in the park today I prayed this simple prayer: Companion God, make me more aware and appreciative of all the other beings who accompany me in this life with their beauty, uniqueness, and mystery. Creator God, you hold everything together. You are the unity, the energy, the love who sustains all of creation. Help me to reverence my connectedness with all things and (most importantly) my oneness with you. Amen.
(This reflection is adapted from my book, By the Way: 100 Reflections on the Spiritual Life. The pictures are from the Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve where this walk took place. The park is located south of Chardon Square on Route 44.)
Our song today is “Song of Creation” by Daniel and Catherine Lovette. It captures the theme of our oneness with all of creation.
Have you ever had an experience where you felt your oneness with creation?
If we were really aware of our connectedness with creation, would we live any differently?
Is there some aspect of creation that makes you feel close to God?
I’d love to hear from you!
PS: This past week I gave a talk entitled “How to Be People of Hope in Today’s World” at Holy Rosary Parish in Erie, PA. I want to thank Fr. John and the parishioners at his two parishes (St. John is the other parish) for their warm welcome, their attentiveness, and their liveliness. They really inspired me!