Welcome and Introduction
Welcome! This resource offers an invitation to ground yourself – literally and figuratively. As those who follow the path of Jesus, we are invited to live deeply rooted in the world, though it can be all too easy (especially these days) to live in the virtual realm of Zoom calls, social media feeds, and news sites. This is a call to get outside and to discover the many lessons and blessings that creation has to share with us.
Not only is this work spiritually grounding, it is also vital in helping us address the climate crisis and its symptoms of all kinds of ecological destruction. These challenges are not just physical or economic ones, but spiritual ones; they call for us to heal our relationship with the earth and with other creatures. Finding ourselves outside and noticing the creation around us is an important first step in learning about, loving, and protecting the earth, our home.
Each week you are invited to enter into the creation story by reflecting on an element of creation and what that element might have to teach us about the world, ourselves and about God. Each week there will be a few short reading suggestions, a few spiritual practices and a chance to reflect on the experience either individually or with friends or family members. Consider this a “choose your own spiritual adventure” in how you engage with the material- it is intended as a guide and a reminder to be outside and to connect with your spirit.
- Choose a set time to engage with this resource – it can help to set a routine no matter how much or how little time you have to spend.
- Don’t stress if you don’t have access to a gorgeous backyard or wild area; there is lots to observe in house plants and out apartment windows.
- Consider having the whole family participate; the practices are easily adaptable and can certainly be done with kids!
- Be gentle with yourself; practices that encourage us to slow down and be mindful of our surroundings can be really challenging. Allow yourself the space for the experience to be what it is for you, without expectations that you should feel or respond in a particular way.
- Be in your body; we are physical beings so let your senses guide you and try to give your brain a break.
- Enter with curiosity! This is a powerful antidote to apathy and our tendency to take life (and especially the natural world) for granted.
In the Beginning (Week 1)
Read the entire creation account out loud or act it out with kids (if you can do this outside, all the better!). If it is a very familiar story to you, try to come to it with a “beginner’s mind” as though you’ve never heard it before. Allow it to surprise you. What do you notice about the two creation stories? What does it tell you about the world, about human beings, about God? What does it tell you about the place of human beings in creation?
- Choose a secluded spot outside somewhere, or sit by an open window. Begin by closing your eyes and becoming aware of your breath. After a few moments, move your awareness to your body, quickly scanning to see how your body feels. Consider your sense of touch, what can you feel in this space? After a few moments, move your awareness to your nose, what do you smell? Move to your ears and the sounds you hear. (Give yourself time to hear the quieter natural noises which may be hidden by louder sounds). Finally, open your eyes and consider what you see in this space, what especially catches your eye?
- Take a walk during your favourite time of the day. Look around you and notice all the “good” you see in creation. Find a stone, feather, leaf, or some other item of nature that you can bring home. Put it somewhere in your home as a reminder that God created all things and declared them good. (The Green Bible)
- On your own, or with other family members, walk around your house, your garden, or your backyard noticing the “good”. As you notice a new example of goodness, say out loud “this is good.” How does this practice impact the way you see your home environment?
- Consider natural places that have particular significance to you, what feelings do these places evoke? Have you had “wilderness experiences” either literally or metaphorically? What have wild locations revealed to you about yourself? If possible, visit one of those places this week. What does that location tell you about God?