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Dearest monks and artists,
We share this week the morning prayer from Day 3 of our Earth Monastery Prayer Cycle. In Day 3 we explore Earth as the original saints. Thomas Merton wrote that the bass and the mountain, the sea and the trees are the original saints. “To be a saint means to be myself,” and we can learn a great deal about sainthood by being in the presence of creatures and the natural world who cannot be other than who they were created to be.
With us it is more complicated. We get distracted and misaligned with our soul’s gifts and callings because of cultural and family messages about what makes a life worth living. Or we had to stifle a passion of ours early on because others mocked us for it. Or we have become caught up in the treadmill of working hard to get to retirement so we can finally enjoy our lives.
Sainthood isn’t a heroic journey. It is the simplest one of all – to the heart of myself – and also the hardest. The poet David Whyte writes, “why are we the one terrible part of creation privileged to refuse our own flowering?”
Today is the Feast of All Saints (and tomorrow of All Souls). We remember all those who have passed into the Great Night, beyond the veil. The Christian tradition tells us that we are still intimately connected to these ancestors who are a part of the “communion of saints” and the great “cloud of witnesses.”
Saints include those who have been formally canonized or recognized by the institutional church as having lived a life full themselves in service to the divine call and to their communities. But just as much it includes those ancestors who are wise and well and can still offer us their wisdom.
Consider this day going for a walk where you can feel a connection to nature – whether a local park or a woodland trail or by the sea – ask all of creation to reveal to you what it means to live in deep alignment with how they were created by God and call upon the name of a human saint – whether one of the many great mystics like St. Hildegard, Benedict, Teresa, or Francis – or one of your blood-lineage kin who always had wisdom about life to offer to you. You can even call upon an ancestor whose name you do not know, asking for one of the wise and well to offer you guidance. Welcome in their presence and send out prayers and blessings for those who have passed who have not yet reached a state of full healing and wholeness.
In the midst of a global pandemic, I invite you to also extend your prayers out to the world community and pray especially for those who have died of this virus alone in a hospital room and for all their family who have not been able to seek physical comfort in one another because of social isolation. We send our blessings to these holy dead and anyone else who has died this past year especially, that they find their place among the great Communion of Saints. May we hear them dancing beyond the veil.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE