God’s first word to humanity came through creation, and through nature, God continues to heal and restore. So those rightly saddened by the closures of churches, mosques and synagogues can rejoice. In the heart of matter is the heart of God, Light within all light. Celtic spirituality in particular has affirmed that creation contains God’s grace and goodness. Rather than, or along with, lamenting the temporary absence of familiar rites and religious practices, all we need do to pray is step outside.
It’s fortunate that quarantine didn’t come in the midst of winter, but in many parts of the country, during spring. The lace of tiny leaves, the freshness of wind, the blown yellow cloud of flowering mustard, a wave of blue forget-me-nots, the wobble of duckling fluff following mom, the wrinkle of wave on lake or sea, the music of rivers: all these lift spirits too long confined indoors.
Even COVID can’t cancel spring, a theme developed by Grammy-winning musicians the Okee Dokee Brothers (Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing) in their new song, “Church of the Woods” https://youtu.be/ZMQ50fIJ6C0. Spirituality and Health describes their newest album:
To quote Fr. Richard Rohr in his on-line Daily Meditation April 18, “A few years ago, I wrote, somewhat facetiously, that the Church should close all programs for a year and simply teach people to pray. It seems to me we may unintentionally have just such an opportunity right now, although I sincerely hope it won’t last a year!” Rohr is, of course, a Franciscan, for whom the natural world is a temple. But if those who are able take a cue from him and walk outdoors, they may be pleasantly surprised and richly rewarded. As Michelangelo said, “My soul can find no staircase to Heaven unless it be through Earth’s loveliness.”