Last night was the Autumnal Equinox. The Sun crossed that imaginary line in the sky called the celestial equator from north to south. Spring begins in the southern hemisphere and fall officially begins here in the north. I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling ‘fall’ for some time now. The nights are cooler, the air has that dried leaf smell to it and the light, well, just looks different, fallish you might say. But with all things human we have to have a point in space and time that defines what we already know to be. We humans can be silly.
While summer is my favorite time I have to admit fall has its good points. There is nothing like taking a walk in the park, leaves crunching beneath my feet, red gold above my head and a blue sky the color of which you only see in fall. This is the time of year I make a pilgrimage into our neighborhood park, Yost Park, and find a quiet corner to sit and pray with nature. A thank you prayer for a lovely summer, a pray of gratitude that I am able to experience the joys, and beauty of all the seasons. I reflect on the past summer and all of the joy and sorrow it brought. As I gaze at the now flaming trees amongst the dark evergreens I allow memory’s to surface of past falls, and allow myself to sink into that deep connection to nature that comes only from giving me permission to feel the creative life of the surrounding world now slowing into slumber. I often remember past fall walks with my father. We used to walk through our fields that were once green and bursting with life but now covered in a sleepy haze the ground began to enter its winter sleep.
Fall is a good time for reflection, a time to take stock, a time to remember, and a time for rest. So for this week’s prayer practice I would like to offer you a Prayer of Examen with nature. Being outside and experiencing the smells and sights of the natural world often triggers memories of past walks by yourself or with others. It gives the experience of the Examen a very immediate and fresh sense, allowing the old memories to open a deeper connection to the creator in today’s moment.
Prayer of Examen with Nature:
- Take 30 minutes, or more if you like, and go for a walk outside. Find a quiet place where you may sit without interruption. Note: leave your cell phone at home.
- Let this time be just between you and God. In whatever way is most comfortable for you ask the Holy Spirit to guide your memories through your imagination.
- As you sit allow a memory to surface of an experience from the past summer or from a previous year where you felt deeply connected with nature and creation.
- In your imagination, visit your memory, recall details such as colors, smells, and sounds, even tasted. Take your time in remembering the details. If you have your journal with you may want to write them down.
- Walk through your memory, turning it around and viewing it from different angles. Are you with someone, or alone? Where was it? Was it a joyful memory or one that tugs at the heart with sadness? Not all fall memories are happy ones and those that cause us grief can be just as meaningful as the joyful one. Linger with your memory; let it soak in.
- When you feel you have spent sufficient time with your meditation notice how you feel at this moment and offer any gratitude that arises. Express thankfulness to God in the way that is most natural for you. You may want to express your gratitude for the part of nature you have spent this time, recognizing the part it played in your imagination.
- You may wish to write your insights in your journal or just what you did or did not notice in your memory for later reflection.
May your time of reflection and rest in your quiet corner of creation help shape how you see and experience nature in the coming days and years. May all creation bless you with rest and healing.
Ruth Jewell, ©September 23, 2014