, ,

Introduction to reading and meditation

From the beginning, God called us into relationship with the divine, with our neighbor, and also with the heavens, seas, mountains, and forests, and all that live there. Isaiah invites us to look to creation, to observe in God’s handiwork the possibility for peace that encompasses all creation.

Hear the words of Isaiah 55: 8-13 (NRSV)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

I invite you now into a time of meditation and reflection. Perhaps the past few days have been frenetic. Your to-do list has kept you inside, removed from the beauty of the outdoors. Today with a still heart you feel deep gratitude for this time set aside for personal renewal and consider how we will protect the fragile and wondrous gift that supports the life God created.

Make yourself comfortable. You may want to close your eyes. With your feet on the floor, relax your body from your toes, to your midsection and then to your face. Breathe deeply of the spirit of God that moves in and around you and release all tension as we imagine a walk in God’s garden.

You have come to this favorite space many times before. Checking your small pack, you prepare to set out with a bottle of cool water and a snack…. Ahead of you a trail beckons. The day is warm as sunlight floods the forest. Overhead, the forest has only begun its springtime transformation from its winter skeletal forms to lush summer canopy. Tiny chartreuse leaves begin to fill the once empty space.

Along the wooded path, you note branches felled by some storm several years past. Now they show evidence of change and decay that supports the new growth on the forest floor where bits of moss are turning green and a new seedling has taken root. Even with just two leaves showing, the seedling will compete with older stronger saplings nearby. Here and there trillium and Dutchman’s breeches flower, intent on gathering strength for another season of growth, their hope to propagate and sustain their species for another generation in this fertile biome.

At long last, you come to your favorite spot, one to which you return at different seasons, year after year. Sometimes the small spring-fed stream swells with the runoff of snow-melt or a summer rain. Today its mere trickle of water from the spring bubbles gently along. You rest your pack against the trunk of an old oak and sit listening.

Other notes fall on your ear… the melody of birdsong and a rustling of leaves in the underbrush as a squirrel scampers across an open space and up a maple. It occurs to you to wonder what the future holds for wild places such as this. You reach into your pack and celebrate a quiet communion with the forest flora and fauna grateful for their presence and their gifts to the cycle of life God created.

As you prepare to leave the forest now, you open your eyes, your mind, your heart and consider how your appreciation for these woodland spaces has led you to respond to the call to stewardship of God’s great gift.

Once again you hear the words of Isaiah…. sharing their earnest hope for many seasons of joyful celebration of all creation.