Category Archives: Cosmos

The cosmos is the universe. The ancients generally viewed it all as a great body. Some have called it “mother”. But it is a father too. It is the dust from which we came. Funerals and Ash Wednesday remind us that our fate is with this cycle of dust. Our Father made us from the earth.

Earth a life-force, a circle, a field, and you and I got lucky to get born into it. We are unlucky that our world, like gravity, longs for us to forget our earthen home. It presses us ever onwards making us believe that we are something higher, something of a maker of this place. We are not.

I dwell upon the cosmos because I am a part of the whole. In it are the fingerprints of the creator because the creators fingers are at work within it. I gaze at the cratered moon, and deep places awaken inside. I lie upon the sandy beach line and let the waves crash onto my body. I feel the power of the mighty ocean as it begins to bury me in its cycle. I am saddened that I live in a tradition that seeks to dominate this majestic land. I long to awaken to a deeper way, an ancient way:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…and cursed is the ground because of humans…who were not there when God laid the foundations while the morning stars sang together…for the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it…and even the sparrow is fed by the hand of the Father…who groans along with all creation which waits in eager expectation…for the new heavens and the new earth…”

Creation Poems: Wendell Berry

THE MAN BORN TO FARMING: Wendell Berry

The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming, whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,

to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death yearly, and comes back rejoicing.He has seen the light lie down in the dung heap,and rise again in the corn.

His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.What miraculous seed has he swallowed that the enending sentence of his love flows out of his mouthlike a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water descending in the dark?…

Joy is a Wild Spruce, Defiant and Full of Abandon

When Mother Teresa was building her order, she placed high value in joy.  She knew that her sisters would see some of the most horrific sights and care for the most disgusting wounds, and –as we would later find out– she knew that they would often live months at a time without sense that God was near.

I recently heard a beautiful rendition of “Jesus the Center of my Joy.” Gorgeous.  The lyrics spoke of lonely places and troubling circumstances.  It posed that essential question: how can I remain joyful?  Joy is not a blissfulness ignorant of life’s trials.  Joy is not a conjured-up faithfulness to a promise we once made, way back.  Joy is a wild spruce that endures through harsh winters. It nourishes itself from the soil of defiance, drinks from the dregs of mercy, and stretches itself in abandon to the sun– knowing full well it will never touch that orb, which shoots forth its warming rays.  Joy endures the hardest of seasons.

I love how Mother Teresa put it:

A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love.  Joy is not simply a matter of temperament, it is always hard to remain joyful – all the more reason why we should try to acquire it and make it grow in our hearts.  Joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love.  She gives most who gives with joy.

To children and to the poor, to all those who suffer and are lonely, give them always a happy smile; give them not only your care but also your heart.  We may not be able to give much, but we can always give the joy that springs from a heart that is filled with love.

Tree Hugging Poetry

John Muir has captured my imagination. I just downloaded his entire works for free on Project Gutenberg and am walking around with them in my Kindle. Both, I would highly recommend.

Here are some more beautiful of his thoughts that I’ve read in these last few days:

From “Travels in Alaska”: On his sea journey to Alaska after spotting a herd of whales.

“But think of the hearts of these whales, beating warm against the sea, day and night, through dark and light, on and on for centuries; how the red blood must rush and gurgle in and out, bucketfulls barrelfulls at a beat!”

From “Travels in Alaska”: On his sea journey to Alaska

“The scenery of the ocean, however sublime in vast expanse, seems far less beautiful to us dry-shod animals than that of the land seen only in comparatively small patches; but when we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”

Back to “Sacred Earth”

Spiritual Retreat: Home Again

For the previous few days,  I posted a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.

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Day 4: Home Again

I leave my cabin now with bags packed, stuffed with wool, upon my shoulders.  And the sun has turned the ice ferns into mist thus laying branches bare. The melt has begun, which will leave this countryside a brown and grey pre-Spring mud.  I see clearly from this side of Friday that what I call my faith slips often and easily into anxiety and disappointment.  Yet, something of this day now grows inside me convincing me just more that a great Mystery is closer than I often realize.

And like the slow unfolding journey of faith itself, I find myself renewed and just noticeably matured.  I come to realize more that hope does not abandon us even in instances of apparent hopelessness, and that the storms about which we often fear the worst tend to become the very experiences that bring us ever upward into the image and presence of God.  Onwards with resolve.

Spiritual Retreat: A Winter’s Walk

For the next few days,  I will continue posting a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.

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Day 3 Afternoon: A Winter’s Walk

As I loose myself in this grandeur, two panting breaths pull me back to earth.  A golden lab and his younger and darker brother find their way through a thicket adjoining some neighbor’s house.  Surprised, I wonder what disposition these hounds might bring to my morning.  We acquaint, and our friendship sparks.  Indeed, I will not be alone this morning to enjoy scenes left undiscovered.

The pathway calls me deeper, and though my toes and bones now feel the chill, I listen to the onward beckon.  I quietly turn another corner.  A flutter high above catches my eye.  I look to my surprise and find two cardinals, deep in red, jumping through branches.  Somehow, this sets my spirit ablaze in awe.  Has any other man seen such beauty of cardinal upon perfect blue sky and among the whitest of branches? The dogs take little care, and as the birds flit off, I am caught up in sheer wonder.

A deep peace flows over my body and spirit as I think of yesterday’s reflection.  My life’s future is unclear, and I have been fighting off a nagging apprehension, but now, in this moment, I am abandoned to this great Mystery who now seems so capable to lead me onwards. What kind of Creating Mystery would make a trillion trillion ice ferns for only one man and two dogs to see? Whatever the intricacies of this living God, I sense now that whatever may come, I will be cared for in a very intricate way and that wherever my path will lead, those Mysterious eyes will be waiting not for me to seek His benefits, but that I would simply learn to cast to Him my love and receive His in return…

Spiritual Retreat: Ice Ferns

For the next few days,  I will continue posting a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.

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Day 3: Ice Ferns

Dreams come and go, and I am stirred from my bed early today.  After sipping some water, I am drawn to my window again.

Then, it hits me like a thousands rays of light: the clouds have passed, the sun has freshly awoken, and the frozen world gleams.  I must get out among this wonder.

I practically jump into my wool and boots and pack my breakfast quickly.  Before I know it, I too have become part of this magnificent morning.  Perfectly deep blue skies grace this unfolding gift of a day as I walk into a vista that makes my jaw drop and spirit soar.   A trillion trillion ice crystals have formed on the slumbering, leafless limbs of these woods.  At closer look, each miniature crystal is like an ice fern with ten to twenty leaves.  One branch hosts perhaps a hundred crystals perhaps a thousand, and before me the blazing morning sun reveals a whole frozen wood, a greatly frosted forest.  Later, I learn they call this hoarfrost, where the temperatures dip more quickly than the trees, and the cold literally freezes the air vapors in millions of magnificent patterns.

On this one-decade day, I sit in awe of the detailed and careful artistry and know that in a few hours, all will melt.  The aged dichotomies of science and faith fade from my mind; I see this intermingling world of wonder and precision and, Oh, how the Mystery must be rejoicing at this beautiful artistry.  I alone will be its witness…