"When we recognize the virtues, the talent, the beauty of Mother Earth, something is born in us, some kind of connection, love is born." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Where do you pray? There was a time when the answer was obvious, Church. But, as centuries go by, life has evolved as do our daily practices.
We are approached by new and often younger spiritual leaders with new ideas, new calls to service, prayer and faith.
We are re-introduced to what we have experienced our whole life on a regular basis in a completely new light, challenging us to continue walking the same road with new ideas. The question then lies; are you open to change? Are you open to finding God truly in all things and places?
Blessed with many spiritual experiences in my lifetime, which I hold close to my heart, I would have to say that the first time I realized I could find God outside of a church was the moment when my faith and my prayer life truly was brought to a new life.
It was a youth retreat I was accompanying, while beginning working with a youth group. We drove hours outside the big city to a rather popular hiking trail, while at the same time walking it could be as if you were the single person out there that day.
The readings and questions given to us were focused on the Emmaus Journey, a favorite story of mine. We walked alone, read, prayed and then asked ourselves the questions. The beauty lied in walking alone, yet I wasn’t completely alone. I was walking with Jesus having a conversation about these great mysteries and answers, challenging my faith and prayer right then and there. I prayed, paused, reflected and embraced my faith in a way I had never done before. It was such an intimate and powerful experience it is hard to bring another person into that day and moment. But I will tell you with all honesty, Jesus was most certainly walking with me guiding me back to the Church at a time when I was so skeptical of it all in my early young adulthood. My emotions ran strong at the time of betrayal, anger, disbelief and loneliness. I had been closed off from the formal Church wondering if I would ever find my way back. This day was the beginning.
As I continued this beautiful hike surrounded by glorious trees so tall you felt like you were walking in a painting, in time an opening appeared and before I knew it I was standing on a cliff with the roaring ocean in front of me. God was welcoming me home in that moment. As I write I can picture each step, hear the birds rustling in the leaves, the crashing waves of the ocean and Jesus’ voice, ‘Come home, Andrea.’ And that I did…
I went on to pray often on hikes, the ocean being such a spiritual definition in all its beauty and later would discover the desert mountain tops that would bring it all together.
God is in all things, truly. Mother Earth is our greatest prayer. Go to her, go to Him and find peace in the creation.
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