It is a lovely late morning in early September. I decide to go for a walk in the nearby park. As soon as I pull into the parking lot, I notice something unusual: there are no other cars. I walk across the wooden bridge that leads to the path around the lake. Before I set off, I scan the area. I see no one—no one walking a dog, no one jogging, no one fishing from one of the docks. “I’m alone!” I say with excitement. “All alone!”
But as soon as I say the words, I smile. I am certainly not alone. As I start walking, I remind myself that although I may be the only human being in the park this morning, I am not the only living being. There are countless other living things with me in the park—for example the sparrows and gold finches I see flying around. I spot two ducks on the water’s edge and a gaggle of geese sitting in the middle of the lake holding some kind of a convention. I notice a few bees, hear the steady droning of some cicadas, and am startled by a couple of jumping grasshoppers showing off their athletic prowess.
And what about the living things I don’t see? The blue gills and bass in the lake. The turtles I’ve seen sunning themselves on a log. And don’t forget the elusive deer, the rabbits, the raccoons, and the bats that are probably hanging upside down sleeping in the bat house built for them. And how could I ever forget the worms, beetles, ants, slugs and other small creatures hiding in the brush, scurrying in the grass, or burrowing beneath the soil? And let’s not forget the flora —the goldenrod, the Queen Anne’s lace, the mushrooms, the bushes, and the trees: willows, ash, oaks, and the maples with their leaves just beginning to turn orange.
No, I am not alone. There are thousands of other living beings with me in the park. And why should I limit my companionship only to living things? What about all the so-called inanimate things that are with me as I walk—the earth I tread upon, the rocks strewn along the shore of the lake, the sun warming me, the clouds floating above me, the air I breathe, the gentle wind on my face and in my hair, and, of course, the beautiful lake itself. Aren’t these all worthy of my attention and appreciation, too?
As I walk, I feel so connected to everything around me. I recall the words of the great German poet Goethe who said, “Nothing in nature is isolated; nothing is without reference to something else.” And I wonder: if we really appreciated our innate connectedness to everyone and everything else, what effect would that awareness have on our interpersonal relationships, our prayer, our daily choices, our work, our laws, our foreign policy?
Father Thomas Berry, who wrote so much about the mystery and beauty of the universe, said this: “The universe is a single gorgeous celebratory event.” As I walked in the park today, I thanked God for allowing me to be a part of such a gorgeous and celebratory world!
How about some bluegrass/gospel music for today’s song? This is Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver singing, “God Is Love.” If you like bluegrass, turn the volume up. If you don’t like bluegrass, turn the volume down and enjoy the beautiful words and pictures!
At what times do you most feel your connectedness with everyone and everything?
Do you like Autumn? If so, why? If not, why not?
I invite you to share some of your thoughts with the rest of us…
PS: Thank you for your prayers for the Autumn retreat I facilitated this past weekend at Benet House in Rock Island, IL. We had 30 wonderful participants: 2 married couples, about 10 laywomen, and the rest were sisters from various communities. Special thanks to Sister Bobbi, OSB, the director of the retreat center who made everyone feel so welcome and who made everything run so smoothly!