Tess Ward shares a prayer exercise for Walking the Earth:
Walking the Earth
This could not be more simple. Set aside at least half an hour. Find a place of green to walk in. Either a garden, a field, a wood, a park, a nature reserve, an allotment, a meadow, or if you’re not in Oxford, the sea or mountain. It does not matter if you know it well or have never been there before. Walk slowly and at a certain point of your choosing, stop. Look around you. Pay close attention to all that you see. Bend down to take a closer look or look up or wherever your eye leads you. Take time. Spend at least 5 minutes doing this. Then walk on and do the same thing again and again until you have completed your walk.
The reason this works is because we don’t do it very often. We can so easily be outside walking and our mind is full of things that have happened in the past or we are making plans for the future and we can find it hard to stay present and miss what is here now. When we do this outside and notice the wonder of God’s creation it’s not such hard work to feel that we belong to it and to trust the Maker of all, however we felt when we started our walk.
You don’t need any words for this exercise but if you would like some here are some taken from my book. They are all copyright Tess Ward “The Celtic Wheel of the Year” O-Books 2007
At the beginning
Praise to you for walking in the garden of this lovely day.
The flowers have not yet faded though soon they might.
Some of the blackberries are fat, some tart and some just right.
The nights are falling slowly, and the mellow evening light is warm.
Praise to you in this sacrament of now.
Give me grace to hold this moment that you have given to me,
to cherish it before it passes with the autumn glow,
to gather the fruits that have fallen to the ground,
and to taste the sweetness of today.
At a tree/wood
Blessed be you Tree of Life,
with your roots reaching down into the damp earth,
your leaves yearning towards heaven’s light.
Praise to you for the wild sanctuary of the wood
and the brown bird choir in the branch-beamed roof.
Shelter me under your care
for you know my greening and renewal.
You know the changes that turn my leaves to flames
You know my little dyings as I must let fall.
You know every ring within the trunk of my life.
You know the spiral of my inner ways.
May I see your windfall grace as I walk in trust this day.
By a river
Blessed be you River of Life,
for you nourish and refresh with clear cold waters,
bringing healing and refreshment to all who come to you.
Even the sound of laughing brook and beck
in dappled light brings joy to troubled souls.
Let me drink of your life here in solitude and stillness,
here where trees grow strong and birds keep watch.
Take my meditation and carry it down to the sea,
where the depth and height and width of your love cannot be measured.
In Garden or Park
more beauteous and eternal than the late summer sun,
brightening the berries cased in nature’s plastic;
hardening the shell of nut.
By your generous hand,
bramble and blackberry, scarlet rowan and elder berries,
shiny rose-hips, rich red haws and deep black sloes.
Seedheads on thistle and teasel feeding the winged ones above.
May your Spirit grow me from seed of love within
that I might bear kind fruit in all weathers this day.
At field or allotment
Praise to you Life-giving One
turning the wheel of each season with your invisible care
for you know what is needful to bring forth the fruits.
Squashes, gourds and marrows sitting on the soil,
apples, damsons, greengages on the soft grass for picking.
And underfoot, cream and magenta root vegetables ready to pull,
hardy turnips, parsnips beetroot and swede.
On tree and bush, clusters of berries in scarlet and October orange,
and nuts cradled in silken case within hard clasp of shell,
feeding birds and squirrels in scarce times.
May I know your presence warming as the colder season calls
and my heart be earthed in your generosity.
Strange God who made dying beautiful
I abandon myself to your curious beauty this day.
As winter comes to rest the land,
empty me as a bowl ready to receive,
ready to notice your love as it happens, not afterwards,
and to cherish your nourishing with gratitude
in fruit and in fallow
and to know how beautiful is this autumn day before it passes.
copyright Tess Ward “The Celtic Wheel of the Year” O-Books 2007
Tess Ward is a hospital chaplain and writer of prayers and liturgies. She facilitates both traditional Christian services and more personal, spiritually focussed ceremonies. Her books include “The Celtic Wheel of the Year” by O-Books 2007. For more information see www.tessward.co.uk.