In February of 2014 I went to live in a cabin by the woods for four days by myself. I was doing some soul searching and looking for answers, and I found more than I bargained for.
The cabin was run by a Catholic organization, and although I grew up and was confirmed Catholic, I am no longer an active member of the church. My search for spirituality brought me to all different religions and churches, and finally settled with me being content having a personal relationship with the divine. (Thanks, yoga.)
Yet while I was there, a book, left on the nightstand, snagged my attention. Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim. The book has daily prayers and rituals – morning and evening – for every season, for mundane activities (cleaning the house and using the restroom has a prayer – no lie), and suggestions for ceremonies at each eqinox.
The book is Christain, no doubt, as it regularly references Jesus, and Catholic as well. But I have never seen any Christain book that has so many references to space, to the cosmos, to such beautifully written prayers. I have never seen such an expression of gratitude underlying each prayer rather than fear.
For example, the Thursday morning fall prayer goes like this:
“The darkness of outer space retreats as the earth turns full-face toward the sun-star, the flaming heart of our solar family. Having risen from sleep, my daily shadow of death, I greet this new autumn day in the joy of resurrection. Blessed are you, Holy Parent, who awakens your children to light. Fill my heart with light as I now enter the shrine of my heart to be one with you, my God.” (Period of silent prayer or meditation.)
It goes on, following a personal prayer or spiritual reading, as well as a request to “open my eyes this day to the splendor of your creation, now dressed in autumn colors. Enflame my imagination as you peel back the scabs of cynicism from my eyes, so that I might see your holiness ablaze at the tip of every branch and alive in every autumn leaf.” And so on.
I became so enamored with this book and the beauty of its words during my retreat, and I used it daily. I asked to purchase a copy, and when the director couldn’t find one, he gave me the copy from the cabin as mine to keep.
Anytime I need to find routine, to get back into a space of gratitude and to realize my smallness in the beauty of our world, I come back to this book. It helps me to remember the trivialness of my earthly, human existence and is a reminder of the vastness of our space, of our universe, and reminds me that I’m just a tiny speck of stardust amidst something so large and complex that we will never wrap our brains around in this human lifetime.
And while that sounds sad, it is ever so reassuring – the emptiness, the vastness, the beauty, the creation.
So today I express thanks to our universe, to the divine who created all of this beauty, and to my spiritual retreat center and director who gave me such a beautiful reminder daily of what it means to be human.