Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
During this Jubilee year of sabbatical we are revisiting our Monk Manifesto by moving slowly through the Monk in the World retreat materials together every Sunday. Each week will offer new reflections on the theme and every six weeks will introduce a new principle.
Principle 4: I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation and a healthy asceticism by discerning my use of energy and things, letting go of what does not help nature to flourish.
Read or listen to the guided meditation.
Contemplation is “a long, loving look at the real.”
This is a slow contemplative walk. Do not be in a hurry. Allow it to take its own shape (you don’t need to walk a long distance, perhaps only a few feet.)
Take some time to center yourself before beginning. Connect to the rhythm of your breath. Bring yourself fully present to the invitation of this moment in time and allow your walk to unfold in this way, without a particular goal or destination, simply listening for what is calling to you next.
As you begin the walk notice what is capturing your attention. See if there is something in nature that wants you to spend some time with it simply being present to its wisdom. Spend some time pondering its gift to you.
Pause every few steps and look around you. Notice what lies in the path before you. Listen for what your body is saying.
When you encounter something you find especially beautiful, take time to meditate with gratitude on it, appreciating all of its qualities of beauty, how it simply is what it was created to be. Allow yourself to fill with joyful gratitude for the gifts of the earth. Open yourself to experience the fullness of this creation and all of the ways God delights in the beauty of it.
Then shift your focus from the creation to yourself. Take this sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the natural object and imagine how God gazes with delight on the beauty of who you are. What aspects of your being can you imagine God relishing? What are the longings inside of you God is asking you to embrace?
Rest in this awareness of the joy and delight of God in your own beautiful blossoming for several minutes. Notice what new longings it stirs in you.
As you near the end of your time, take a few moments to notice what are the inner invitations you have experienced? What has the Creator been saying to you through creation?
Simply dwell in silence allowing your heart to fill with gratitude for whatever has been revealed. As you walk, listen.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner