Thought you would enjoy this spiritual essay about nature from Reflections: A Journey to God: It's been said that prayer involves a personal process of talking with God, and meditation refers to listening to God. For me there are many ways to connect with the Divine. In particular, I enjoy writing and creating word pictures about nature, which places me in the spiritual zone of the now. Here is my meditation about Yachats.
Word pictures bring me into the moment. If you have problems getting yourself centered, here's a little exercise I've learned that helps me be present. I ask myself, "what do I see?" (for instance, the ocean); "what do I hear?" (for instance, the ticking of a clock); finally "what do I physically feel?)" the cool arms of the chair I'm sitting in.
I close my eyes and ask myself these three things very slowly. If done correctly, at the end of the third repetition I'm perfectly centered.
I have another way I center myself to get into the moment. I first heard about it from Reverend Jim Lee (Unity Minister from Detroit). He says to breathe in and out slowly to relax your body, and then think of something that brings you true joy, something that makes you smile. At the end of only 10 seconds of pondering your joy, you will be centered.
So, let me paint some word pictures for you. They don't necessarily have to be from nature. It can be a photo of a grandchild, a picture on your wall or desk, or a vase of flowers on the table. Anything that speaks to you.
Nature speaks to me...
It is the last full day of our vacation in Yachats, pronounced "ya-hahts". This amazing place was named after the Yachats Native Americans who were hunters and gathers in the 1500's. There are several translations of the word, but the one I appreciate the most truly characterizes the environment here: "as far as you can go along the beach."
I am in our living room, nestled down in a lounge chair, looking at the omnipresent ocean through our panoramic windows. The sky is cloudy with streaks of powder blue on the horizon, hinting of a possible clearing.
Ocean waters appear a foamy, grayish-white, as they play surf music with wave cymbals and splash drums. Sometimes they erupt into blow-hole spectaculars--actually shooting spray twenty or more feet into the air between the volcanic rock fingers.
The last two sunsets here were an almost out-of-body experience for me. I recall the sun sphere presented its magical illusion of disappearing into the ocean horizon. The sky became a radiant portrait of pastel colored-ribbons, gleaming with flame red, tangerine, soft pink, and all shades in between. Such a vision was accompanied by a sea chorus, singing to all of us about the mystery and wonder of life.
With these word pictures, I feel connected, serene, other worldly. I feel a strong Divine Presence in and through me. I close my eyes and can still see the pictures. I take them inside of me, and I will keep them with me, through the many memories they provide. They are a gift from the Divine,
At times, I also enjoy reading out loud the material I have written. The sound of words casts a rhythm of sentences, which comfort, inspire, and reveal pathways to better stories. Or, they can even point the way to emotional healing. (More about this later.)
To illustrate this, I remember the hike I took during our time in Yachats with our son Jason and his daughter, 14-year-old Kaidyn. I wrote about the hike when we got back and experienced considerable comfort and pleasure from reading out loud the following passages:
We started at a place called Cape Perpetua, high in the mountains off the Highway 101 South, heading out of Yachats towards the quaint town of Florence. The ocean view from the roadside observation station was enough to take my breath away.
In the distance was a pine-tree-covered peninsula that formed one arm of the U-shaped bay. Pulsating, whitecap waves, in parallel lines rolled endlessly up and over the volcanic rock slabs below. The rocks - gigantic, distorted, and richly black made a checkerboard appearance as they rose from the sand.
This scene beckoned us to move down the hilly hiking trail, which descended through ferns and Queen Anne's Lace fauna to explore the rock formations at the oceans' edge. These ancient protrusions, we soon discovered, kept hidden wondrous tide pools, stocked with fishy sea smells of anemones, multicolored star fish, and purple and pink sea urchins.
We laughed and shouted to each other as we made new discoveries, played out against a background of surf timpani and blow-hole eruptions. The water spray, sea energy, and excitement underscored the incalculable value of family love, and the awesome glory of life itself.
When I am filled with the miracles of nature I do a quick meditation, (Remember, meditations can be short, in the moment revelations.) I can't emphasize enough the importance of slowing down to stop and breathe. When I live further in the moment, my positive inner voice guides me to achieve whatever I seek - a healthy life, prosperity, love, joy, inner peace, guidance of all kinds (sometimes quit surprising!) akin to being led to write a spiritual book with my wife.
We are always moving too fast, aren't we? In our American culture, and I'm sure in other cultures as well, we have a tendency to reach for the fast fix... a few beers or vodkas, maybe drugs or sex, maybe electronic devices. These things take and keep us out of touch with the world and out of touch with ourselves and others. We utterly numb ourselves.
Here are further ways to get back in touch:
The clouds have moved out; the sun is gloriously back and I walk outside to the grassy cliff and simply pause to listen.
I become more aware of the sea concert carried on a salty, windy breeze that embraced all of my senses. I assume the crouching Tai Chi position, taking a deep breath for three seconds, exhaling slowly for six; and float my arms up like the extended wings of a great sea bird.
As I went through my healing ritual of breathing, stretching, dancing, and affirmations, I noticed my son and granddaughter observing me through the windows. They were laughing and copying my various closed-hand prayer positions. I smiled back, gave them a thumbs up, and finished the process of standing still in the blessed moment of the now.
As I listened to my inner voice I heard the lessons of acceptance, humility, and gratitude which comes, for me, from writing about these precious moments; and the joy of sharing them with all who find comfort in word pictures.
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