Walking the Earth – Prayer Exercise

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

Radiant One,

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,

hazelnuts, sweet-chestnuts,

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.

On leaving

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.

The wonder of creation in us

Creation Tide, which starts today on 1 September and runs for five weeks until 4 October, is a good opportunity for us to engage with creation in new ways. It’s good to engage with detail in creation. Contemplate, wonder, give thanks. It’s fascinating to watch a small child interact with a very small discovery in a garden path or a flower border. There’s enough miracle in that tiny patch of ground to keep a child entranced. Whatever happened to that quality of wonder in us? Here’s an example.

Annie Dillard is an American writer who is exquisitely aware of details. In her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek she writes of encountering a butterfly:

‘It is easy to coax an exhausted butterfly onto your finger. I saw a monarch walking across a gas station lot; it was walking south. I placed my index finger in its path, and it clambered aboard and let me lift it to my face. Its wings were faded but unmarked by hazard; a veneer of velvet caught the light and hinted at the frailest depth of lapped scales. It was a male; his legs clutching my finger were short and atrophied; they clasped my finger with a spread fragility, a fineness as of some low note of emotion or pure strain of spirit, scarcely perceived. And I knew that those feet were actually tasting me, sipping with sensitive organs the vapour of my finger’s skin: butterflies taste with their feet. All the time he held me, he opened and closed his glorious wings, senselessly, as if sighing.’

The description of that encounter goes on for another full page. This was just an exhausted butterfly ‘walking south,’ but it evoked a depth of observation and attention that is enviable to those of us who would have wandered innocently by. When we engage with detail we’re taken into the profound value of every part of creation.

As we walk the dog or go to the local shops, can we try to walk more slowly (it’s hard). And as we walk, can we look, smell, touch, listen. A whole world of new sensory experiences opens up which is usually screened out by our distraction and haste. We need to be aware that this ability to attend to nature will easily fade unless encouraged. William Blake observed that, ‘The tree which moves some to tears of joy is, in the eyes of others, only a green thing which stands in the way.’ But faced with all this wonder, the next question for most of us has to be: ‘how then shall we live on this planet of miracles?’

Bishop of Oxford – the Rt Rev John Pritchard

For further resources around Creation Tide visit: www.earthingfaith.org/creation-tide

Photo Monarch (Butterfly) by Dave Govoni (Va bene!)

Pilgrimage Project

Pilgrimage involves going on a journey, which can often lead to us connecting to the world in new ways. Be it appreciating God’s creation in deeper ways or connecting with a deeper call to live the spiritual life.

The Diocese of Oxford has launched the Pilgrim Project  to encourage the spirit of pilgrimage,  part of which has led to the launch of a new diocesan pilgrimage map which features 15 places of special spiritual significance across the Diocese of Oxford. The hope is that the map will inspire not just visitors to each place on the map, but also a spirit of pilgrimage elsewhere. For example, one rural benefice has already been inspired by this project to plan a local pilgrim map encompassing each of its seven churches. What could you do in your area? How can the spirit of pilgrimage encourage us in caring for creation?

Resources to help are on hand, including:

There are A3 posters of the Diocese of Oxford pilgrimage map available and also pocket sized folded maps. Contact the Diocese of Oxford Communications office (01865 208225) if you would like copies.

The Bishop of Oxford, The Rt Revd John Pritchard, will be visiting each place on the map to pray with local people over the summer. There is an open invitation to join him if you are in the area.

  • Monday 8 August: 9.30am Olney; 11.15am North Marston; 12.30pm Drayton Beauchamp
  • Tuesday 9 August: 9am Cookham; 10.30am Easthampstead; 12 noon Stoke Poges
  • Wednesday 10 August: 10.30am Speen; 12 noon Goring
  • Thursday 11 August: 10.30am Stanton Harcourt; 12.15 Dorchester Abbey
  • Friday 12 August: 9am Christ Church Cathedral.
  • Tuesday 30 August 10 am South Newington
  • Wednesday 31 August: 9.30 University Church; 10.45 Binsey; 2pm Compton Beauchamp

See below to view the Diocese of Oxford pilgrimage guides for each of the participating churches on their map.

Creation Tide 2011 – Our Daily Bread Resource

Every year we encourage church communities to observe Creation Tide (aka a Time for Creation) and in 2011 it runs for the five weeks from 1 September to 4 October, which, with the downtime of summer holidays, may mean you need to start planning early.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) produce resources for Creation Tide each year, and this year the chosen focus is  ‘Food in God’s creation’ under the heading Our Daily Bread.

CTBI have produced a range of resources to equip churches and help planning  – and they are available now on their website to download. The Our Daily Bread resources include:

  • Sermon notes – include a series of themed sermons for each week of creation tide, plus two longer sermons
  • Re-imagining Harvest – a creative suggestion for a new form of Harvest Festival and community event
  • Ecumenical service outline – complete with PowerPoint presentation
  • Discussion group resource – through two case studies, and questions to aid discussion, a group is equipped to look at farming practices in the UK and ask what does sustainable farming in the UK mean for us?
  • Background paper – a three page background paper on food, agriculture and issues for consumers.

Download all the Our Daily Bread resources here.

Creation Tide resources from previous years can be found here. Also check out other resources mentioned on Earthing Faith.

Do you have resources that could be used in Creation Tide? Get in touch or leave a comment below.

‘What’s the food like?’, ‘Who is providing the food?’, ‘Is there enough food to go round?’ Our everyday talk constantly makes reference to food, which is no surprise, as food and drink are essentials for life and survival.When we pray “Give us our daily bread” we are both acknowledging our dependence on God’s generosity and our realisation that the answer to that prayer needs to include agriculture, commerce, sharing, trade-justice, animal welfare, diet and a host of other considerations.

Creation Tide 2010

“Let the heavens be glad and let Earth rejoice” Ps. 96.11

Each year Creation Tide is celebrated from the 1st September to the second Sunday in October (taking us through to 9th October in 2010 – and including St Francis of Assisi Day on 4th October). Churches and groups are invited to use this time of the year to focus on, and promote the preservation of, Creation.

Here on the Earthing Faith website we are marking Creation Tide with Inspired by Creation – a chance to share with others how creation inspires you through sharing the place where you connect with God and what that inspires. Elsewhere there are lots of resources to help you focus your thoughts, prayers and actions during Creation Tide. Here are a few…

Creation Flourishing - a time for celebration and careChurches Together in Britain & Ireland have produced new resources for Creation Tide this year on the theme of Creation Flourishing – a time for celebration and care, and linking into the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity.

Resources for Creation Time 2010 include lots of ideas and suggestions that can be used on one occasion or over the 5 weeks, including:

  • Sermon notes based on the Lectionary readings for the 5 Sundays
  • A keynote sermon on the theme, and other sermons
  • Prayers of intercession
  • Resources for children’s groups and schools
  • Group study ideas
  • Biodiversity FAQs – for churches
  • A range of other liturgical material

You may also find the CTBI resources from previous years useful – they can be found here.

The Season of Creation website also has a wealth of resources, including a Three-year Cycle of Readings for Creation Tide, as well as liturgies, sermon themes and childrens resources.

You might also find the following websites useful for more general resources to use during Creation Tide:  European Christian Environmental Network | Christian Ecology Link

If you know of other resources that might he helpful to people please share them in the comments section.

May the Spirit of God, who is above all and in all and through all,

fill you with the knowledge of God’s presence in Earth

and the pulsing of Christ within you.


Taken from The Season of Creation’sLiturgy – Planet Earth Sunday 1

Earth Day – Connect with your patch of earth today

Originally uploaded by basswulf

Today (Thursday 22nd April) is Earth Day. A day celebrated around the world (although not very widely in the UK), and designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. With the sunny weather putting a spring in our step and helping people venture into their gardens or nearby parks, why not take an opportunity today to mark Earth Day by connecting with your local patch of earth?

Head outside and appreciate creation where you are. You could even walk outside barefoot, like Francis did, so he would experience no disconnect between himself and “Sister Earth”. You may like to use the following Garden Blessing from Christine Sine. Whatever you do take some time to enjoy connecting with your little patch of earth today.

God bless this garden

Through which your glory shines

May we see in its beauty the wonder of your love

God bless the soil

Rich and teeming with life

May we see in its fertility the promise of new creation

God bless our toil

As we dig deep to turn the soil

May we see in our labour your call to be good stewards

God bless each seed

That takes root and grows

May we see in their flourishing the hope of transformation

God bless the rains

That water our efforts to bring forth life

May we see in their constancy God’s faithful care

God bless the harvest

Abundant and bountiful in season

May we see in God’s generosity our need to share

God bless this garden

As you bless all creation with your love

May we see in its glory your awesome majesty

Amen

Garden blessing prayer from Christine Sine’s ebook To Garden With God