Some books I can’t let go of. I tell myself it’s time to donate this book to our library here, but I just can’t move myself to do it. Such a book is Canticles of the Earth by F. Lynne Bachleda. Published by Loyola Press in 2004, this little book (it’s 5″ X 7″) “shows us how to look through a spiritual lens and see God in the natural world.” I was praying with this book the other day, and I decided to share a few excerpts for today’s blog.
First of all, let me mention that this book draws from a wide range of writers from William Wordsworth to Buddha, from Thomas Merton to Emily Dickinson, from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to Julian of Norwich—and many, many others. Some excerpts might be a page or more. But most are brief paragraphs. Here are ten excerpts I thought you might find “nourishing.”
1. We humans think we are smart, but an orchid, for example, knows how to produce noble, symmetrical flowers, and a snail knows how to make a beautiful, well-proportioned shell… We should bow deeply before the orchid and the snail and join our palms reverently before the monarch butterfly and the magnolia tree. The feeling of respect for all species will help us recognize the noblest nature in ourselves. Thich Nhat Hanh
2. If you wish to know the divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand. Buddha
3. I must share with you a story about a particular barren time in my life when I used a tree for a spiritual director. I learned so much that year because I listened in silence… Because it was small, I couldn’t lean on it but could only sit beside it. That taught me a lot about what the role of a spiritual guide should be… Even though it was small, it had the ability to give a certain amount of shade… You don’t have to have a lot of leaves to give shade… Because it was silent I listened deeply… You don’t need a lot of words to connect with God. Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB
4. In the name of God, stop a moment, close your work, look around you. Leo Tolstoy
5. Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart for any seeds the wind may bring. Henri Frederic Amiel
6. When Jesus commanded people to “love their neighbor,” did he say all neighbors were necessarily two-legged ones? Matthew Fox
7. Don’t make lists, or explore ancient accounts.
Forget everything you know
and open. Dorothy Walters
8. Protect me, O Lord; my boat is so small, and your ocean so big. Breton Fisherman’s Prayer
9. Immediately when we see or experience any natural phenomenon, when we see a flower, a butterfly, a tree, when we feel the evening breeze flow over us or wade in a stream of clear water, our natural response is immediate, intuitive, transforming, ecstatic. Everywhere we find ourselves invaded by the world of the sacred. Thomas Berry
10. Grant us a heart wide open to all (earth’s) beauty; and save our souls from being so blind we pass unseeing when even the common thornbush is aflame with your Glory. Walter Rauschenbush
Do any of these excerpts speak to you today? If so, which one(s)… and why?
Do you have any books that you have held on to for years? If so, which book(s)… and why?
PS: When I chose this topic for today, I couldn’t help but think of all those millions of people suffering from natural disasters all over the world—especially the people who were in the path of Hurricane Ian. Let us continue to pray for all who are suffering from natural disasters of all kinds, and for the people who give them aid in whatever way they can—whether it is direct assistance, monetary contributions, prayers.
Our video today is the ancient prayer of St. Francis of Assisi called “Canticle of the Son” written in the 13th Century. This version is a recitation of his prayer with accompanying pictures of nature’s beauty.
I encourage you to respond below to today’s reflection. My readers always tell me how much they enjoy hearing from other readers!