Praying with God’s Book of Creation
By Sam Hamilton-Poore
"If your heart be right, then every created thing will become for you a mirror of life and a book of holy teaching. For there is nothing created so small and mean that it does not reflect the goodness of God."
Thomas a Kempis (c.1379-1471)
In my last posting for Patheos I wrote about the "two books" of God's revelation -- the "book of creation" and the Bible. This is a follow-up in which I invite you to spend more time in prayer and meditation with some experience you've had within God's "book of creation."
The following prayer form is an adaptation of lectio divina ("divine reading"), a practice used by Christians over many centuries in which individuals/communities pray short passages of scripture slowly, repeatedly. Instead of a passage of scripture, I invite you to pray with the memory of a personal experience you have had within nature -- allowing the event to resonate and deepen within your awareness.
A key element of this practice is to allow time and quiet for your memory and imagination to unfold, and to be open to where the Spirit may wish to lead you today. Especially give yourself plenty of time for Step 4 (below). You may wish to carry along a journal in which to record your thoughts.
In silent prayer, open yourself to the presence of God's Spirit. Rest for a while in the Spirit.
When ready, reflect over recent events in your life within nature. Identify those that have significance for you, for whatever reason. Simply list them. [For example: a recent hike in the woods; gardening in the yard; wading a creek; picking up garbage on the beach; etc.]
Now let one of these events choose itself as the one you will spend more time with today.
Reflect on this event. What happened? Where did it happen? Who else was involved? What physical sensations do you remember -- sights, sounds, smells, textures, flavors? What were (are) your feelings about this experience? Is there a particular passage or story from scripture that may speak to your experience? If so, which passage or story? Is there any sense of invitation to you from God?
When you perceive yourself "done" with Step 4, simply let yourself linger for a while longer with God and your memories. Then, when finished, offer a word or gesture of thanks to God.
May you see the glory of God in sun and sky;
may you hear the Creator's song in bird and breeze;
and may the grace of Christ's Spirit course through you,
body and soul.
"Blessing" © Sam Hamilton-Poore, Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God's Creation (Nashville: Upper Room Books, 2008), p. 33, used by permission.
Sam Hamilton-Poore is the Director of the Program in Christian Spirituality at San Francisco Theological Seminary, as well as Assistant Professor of Christian Spirituality. He is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and has served congregations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa.