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A WGREN Meditation for the Week of January 27, 2008
"We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well - for we will not fight to save what we do not love."
- Stephen J. Gould
"I am afraid that I do not see much hope for a civilization so stupid that it demands a quantitative estimate of the value of its own umbilical cord."
- David Ehrenfield
We live in the natural environment. What we do to the environment then matters no less than what we do to other human beings, indeed what we do to the environment we do to other human beings. To care about other human beings then we must also care about the environment. The problem though is that rather than care about the environment, the more common response is to consider it one more parameter in the economic calculations that drive modern societies. Thus rather that see the environment as essential to our (spiritual as well as physical) survival, we attempt to determine its economic value. Then as with other commodities, we purchase it, we sell it and we consume it until . . . until what? It is all gone? Ehrenfield's quote forces us to consider the wisdom in this approach - is it is wise to place an economic value on our collective 'umbilical cord'. That we are even in a position to formulate the question suggests that perhaps we have need to reassess what wisdom means.
Mark H. Dixon
Department of Philosophy & Religion
Ohio Northern University
A WGREN Meditation for the Week of January 20, 2008
For some years now I have attempted to walk a path with intention. The way is often encumbered, although it would be more accurate to assert that the obstacles are typically my own limitations. I have trodden this path in myriad states from bursting rage to silent wonder. I have flung myself through these woods and meadows like a burning arrow. Smoldering indignation kindled into flame by a too tender accounting of injuries. In the course I have learned that it is possible to "walk my troubles down" although it takes both patience and persistence.
I have found it far better to walk with intention. At the outset, it was an attempt to escape the sticky embrace of the self. Caught in tendrils, bound to a narrative of suffering; I hoped to make something cleaner, and though it is old fashioned to say so, something more wholesome. In this process, I learned that to walk a path with deep attention and intention is to make it my own. However, it would also be true to say that I become subsumed in the path.
Don't worry. My goal is not some tediously pious meditation on the Journey of Life. My struggle is to escape the lure of my own words and thought and instead to look with loving kindness on the ordinary. I have already removed my own veil so I can touch its beauty.
While walking today, I found a tear shaped cluster of sumac flowers. Whether released by a squirrel or runner, it stopped me in my path. Temporarily ending one meditation or prayer and starting another, I bent to retrieve the sumac. On one side, small round balls the color of garnets catching the light, with tiny, spiky tendrils. On the other side the globes were a heathered brown and the protrusions reminded me of dendritic snowflakes. Turning it in my palm, nuzzling the softness, wondering whether it carried a scent? None I could detect.
Earlier I had considered what it would be like to take this walk and see this wood and meadow as a lover might. Not like an obsessive lover who sees an idealized self reflected in another's eyes. Instead, a love ancient and true. Rumi came to my mind. The Song of Songs would work equally well. What would it be like to walk in the world for one full day, seeing and treating it as the Beloved? My true love does have dove's eyes. The sky is now a gentle gray lightened by the touch of a still distant sun. Try it yourself and let me know what happens.
Keep Me Fully Glad
Keep me fully glad with nothing. Only take my hand in your hand.
In the gloom of the deepening night take up my heart and play with it as you list.
Bind me close to you with nothing.
I will spread myself out at your feet and lie still. Under this clouded sky I will
meet silence with silence. I will become one with the night clasping the earth in
Make my life glad with nothing.
The rains sweep the sky from end to end. Jasmines in the wet untamable wind revel
in their own perfume. The cloud-hidden stars thrill in secret. Let me fill to
the full my heart with nothing but my own depth of joy.
- Rabindranath Tagore
Kathleen M. Dixon
Department of Philosophy
Bowling Green State University
A WGREN Meditation for the Week of January 13, 2008
"And God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light."
- (Genesis 1: 3)
Choose one day per week in which you will turn on no light switches (including on automobiles), and you will live by the light occurring naturally in its own rhythm. You might call this an "electrical Sabbath". What behaviors change for you? Do relationships change? How? What parts of your 'world' do you focus on differently? Or more? Or less? The purpose is to induce reflection upon the Scripture - and those who wrote it before light switches existed. We ask: What do we see, and see differently, because light comes from God and not ourselves (or because God [divinity/holiness] makes our seeing possible and not we ourselves)?Wayne Albertson
Ada United Methodist Church
A WGREN Meditation for the Week of January 6, 2008
Now that the mad rush is over,
O center of stillness and peace:
Now that the needles are falling from the tree,
We thank you that you are still God-with-us.
As we face the year ahead,
help us to accept the difficult parts of our lives;
help us to make the changes we must make;
bring us to new places of openness and love toward you and the people around us;
help us to overcome the fears which keep us from the fullness of life.
As the frigid days of January and February draw near,
help us to keep warm places alive within us,
where in secret
the bulbs of springtime tulips are nurtured.
As we face the year ahead,
we thank you for one another
and for your grace in Jesus Christ.
Help us live individually and as a congregation
to be signs of your compassion,
hope, joy, and unity
in this world you love in Jesus
our Christ. Amen
- Ruth C. Duck
Ruth Duck is a professor of worship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and her hymns appear in the United Methodist hymnal. Her use of the natural cycle of frigid winter leading to the first flowers of spring reminds us that in our spiritual life there will be 'frigid winters' when we meet the difficult parts of ourselves where fears tempt us to hem our lives in. Even in cold, dark times we can open to the grace of Christ working 'in secret;' we can keep warm places of love alive within us. How shall we direct this love? The prayer indicates three ways: We can love this natural world created and loved by God; we can love the people around us, and we can love this God who is always with us. And to what will nurturing this love lead? After the spiritual winter the new life incubating in our quiet inner places will flower into compassion, hope, joy, and unity -- all signs of the Spirit. Ruth Duck offers us a call to participate fully in the natural cycle and invites us to hope in the newness of life that comes in the Spirit of Jesus our Christ. Will we receive this call and accept this invitation?Bill Fuller
Department of Mathematics
Ohio Northern University