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Natural Worship – A Reflection

April 26, 2020
Our neighbor… a Mallard Duck

Today we were actually able to take a walk between fellowship and worship. Did I have my iPhone or camera with me? Nope! As we walked along the path to our church’s outdoor chapel, we listened to a variety of birds singing. We also watched multiple House Finches (male and female) fly and sing. This was where my telephoto lens would have come in handy!

Photo came from this website:

It was a beautiful walk until we came across far too many people ignoring the directive of the Governor to social distance and wear masks. It truly turned my stomach. Despite feeling frustrated, my heart returned to the song of the House Finches next to our outdoor chapel and columbarium.

As I reflect upon the afternoon walk and the beauty of our natural surroundings my thoughts turned to the poetry of Thomas Merton. In the book Emblems of a Season of Fury, I read the following poem:

O Sweet Irrational Worship

Wind and a bobwhite
And the afternoon sun.

By ceasing to question the sun
I have become light,

Bird and wind.

My leaves sing.

I am earth, earth

All these lighted things
Grow from my heart.

A tall, spare pine
Stands like the initial of my first
Name when I had one.

When I had a spirit,
When I was on fire
When this valley was
Made out of fresh air
You spoke my name
In naming Your silence:
O sweet, irrational worship!

I am earth, earth

My heart’s love
Bursts with hay and flowers.
I am a lake of blue air
In which my own appointed place
Field and valley
Stand reflected.

I am earth, earth

Out of my grass heart
Rises the bobwhite.

Out of my nameless weeds
His foolish worship. (p. 42)

During these days of isolation and COVID-19 we look for signs of hope and beauty. We look for signs of the Spirit’s presence.

Perhaps we can pause and consider the beauty of such Irrational Worship. Perhaps in that worship we can find hope. Will you join me, dear reader, in this endeavor? May we indeed find hope together.

  1. pynkoski2 permalink

    Hope, indeed. A favorite Merton poem. Thank you.
    I guess one question, not to detract from the experience of the birds, is how do you address those who violate the social distance rules? Crossed my mind, as I just asked “is that six feet?” of two volunteers chopping potatoes shoulder to shoulder.

    • To be honest, living in Colorado where guns are prevalent and it is a conceal/carry state we just make sure we keep our own distance. Sad but a reality here. Even in the midst of such beauty.

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