Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

I confess.

I confess that my primary locus of concern, meaning, and spiritual experience is the world in which we live. I find my religious orientation in nature, in being part of this world. This includes not only what we typically consider to be the “natural world” apart from humans, but also the cultural forms which have emerged within nature, including our human expressions and creativity regarding ethics, aesthetics, relationships, and – yes – spiritual practices and experiences. The Universe seems to love profligate diversity: natural, cultural and religious diversity. Can our small minds wrap around that? Can our common experience of life on this Earth expand our sense of who we are and what we understand our places to be? Can we come together to share and celebrate our understandings?

That confession made, I must also say that the world-to-come also concerns me, if the term is understood to mean not some after-death realm, but rather the future of this world and its life-forms (metaphorically, the Kingdom [kindom] of God, which is present and yet to come). This concern is born of compassion, of a sense of belonging. As a religious naturalist,  I understand and take part in the beauty, mission, and yearning of other forms of religious expression, including those of the little country church I attend. At the same time, I am fascinated to see what forms of ritual and community emerge around the growing (yet deeply historical) “religious naturalist” orientation.

One reason I find Celtic spirituality so appealing is that in the early years, Christianity in the Celtic lands evolved separately from Roman Christianity, and retained a deep understanding of the world as sacred. A Celtic religious orientation is intertwined with daily activities, events, tasks, relationships. More about that in a future post.

So, I confess – yet it is an open confession, because my understanding is evolving as I learn from life. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Today is Sunday, a good day for a confession; this post will suffice as my Sunday meditation, because it’s a wild day – I’m not driving to church given the wind storm, fallen branches, and the power going off and on.

Now to post this while the power is on!

Comments on: "Confessions of a Religious Naturalist" (9)

  1. Jennifer said:

    Thank you! Needed something real and good and thoughtful this morning, and here it is, sent directly from SWW to my e-mail box. Thank you for your blog, Katharine!

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  2. Theadora Davitt-Cornyn said:

    This photo is so healing ~ for our spiritual and physical health, we humans need to see the colors of nature…. look at all those shades of green in the light-dappled pathway! Right now, the nearby hills and mountains along the central coast of California are covered as if by a thick plush blanket of greenery, due to all the recent rains. Most of the year they are also beautiful, but swathed with the natural ground cover of dry palomino grasses. Chumash people used to travel inland in the cooler winters, and when the weather became too hot inland, they would make seasonal migrations to the not-too-distant shorelines.

    Human eyes seem to need to be able to view blue skies, and waterways, so my sense is that folks who live in sterile environments are starved for the refreshing healing powers of the natural world. Instead of concrete jungles and war-torn bomb cratered topographies, they need to see trees and ground covers and hear the magic of falling water, even if only in fountains.
    The worst kind of prisons shut people off from natural daylight, and from seeing the natural world. Isolation is inhuman; it kills the soul.

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    • Theadora,
      The photo was taken in the Spring of 2009, when my daughter and granddaughters were visiting from Key West, FL. They are used to a very different climate and vegetation. It was a delightful walk.
      Yes, the sights, sounds and smells of the woodlands can be very healing, and can teach us lessons about our place in the scheme of things.
      I enjoy learning about schoolchildren and others creating green areas in cities. My daughter and son-in-law started Key West’s first-ever community garden, and are currently working on starting a second one in the city because the first is such a success. Warms my heart.

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  3. More power to you!

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    • Hee, hee! Yes, we have power, but I have not yet reset the clocks, enjoying the sense of timelessness today.
      Our neighbors lost an enormous part of a tree, which fell on their house. It was quite the storm.
      And more power to you as well!
      : )

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      • I often meditate in my back yard when weather permits. I’d listen to birds. Feel a slight breeze. And welcome the sun’s warmth as it covered me like a smooth blanket.

        Once, I closed my eyes for what seemed like only a moment. Our pet white rabbit was nestled at my right side, while a hen sat near my left. A squirrel I had left peanuts in a shell at my house some 100 feet away, had clutched the peanut in its claws and sat on a large rock in the lawn, less then 10 feet away.

        This must have been how St Francis felt, I thought upon opening my eyes and seeing us together. Nature making all one. Again.

        So this is what a Celtic Way of Life is all about. Might have to look further into it . . .

        thanks,

        michael j

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      • Thank you for the Franciscan image, Michael! A vivid description.

        Like

  4. On the topic of religious naturalism, check out the gathering “Contemplative Practices, Naturally, on October 17th, 2010, 4 PM. http://www.sanctuarywithoutwalls.org.

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