By Rev. Elizabeth Rechter, Executive Director
Author's note: For a richer experience, I invite you to play the video below as you read the reflection that follows.
Yesterday morning it rained. In this coastal desert climate I call home, rain is a spiritual experience for me. Our land and our lives are challenged by a lack of rain. At my house, the gentle rain shower lasted about twenty minutes. I had just finished one of my morning rituals of skimming the news feed on my phone. This always seems to increase my stress level, and every time I do it, I think I should find a better way to stay connected. Setting down my phone, I felt drawn to the rain. I needed to be close to it, so I stepped outside to be in it.
As I felt water grace the plants and trees and me, I couldn’t imagine a more powerful form of prayer. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. It did so much more than any word could accomplish. It was a felt prayer. Each of my cells were given what they desperately needed, even though I could not have said what that was. And I could feel the earth receiving this much needed gift as well.
When the rain stopped, I said Amen to the gift, knowing somehow it would quench the other parts of my life too.
I don’t know anyone who is not feeling a bit of what I needed prayers for from the rain. We are living in stressful times.
I recently was introduced to the term weathering which has helped me. It is a new use for an old word. Webster defines weathering this way: to undergo change, especially discoloration or disintegration, as the result of exposure to atmospheric conditions. Michael Lu, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, coined the term weathering for stress-induced wear and tear on the body. Weathering "causes a lot of different health vulnerabilities and increases susceptibility to infection," she said.
It is the right word, and I am glad to have it. It is real and for the most vulnerable among us it has devastating effects.
And yesterday, I found it was the weather that helped me. In fact, I don’t know what I would do without nature as a companion. There is an understanding in Native American spirituality that one of the reasons we benefit from being in nature is because it is benevolent. When we take a walk in the woods, we are surrounded by the benevolence of trees. We can feel the love of sunlight and moonlight. All the creatures carry it too. No words are needed here. The prayers of the earth around us are felt.
I like to remember that we, too, are nature. We are made of the same stuff as plants and animals and stars. This is another reason why being in nature helps us: there is a cellular kinship. Experiencing a beautiful sunset or a quiet meadow resonates in us because the same elements are in us...we feel at home with them. We are connecting to a part of us we know. I think it is what we are feeling when we sit with others and share at the spirit level, connecting to our common Source and the one who made all our cells.
In our current climate, we need more than ever to remember that we are all created of the same elements. We are all One. We need to know how to care for ourselves and others when we are feeling the weathering. How do I show up in ways to help and what helps me?
God Whose Name Is “I Am”:
Help me see how the becoming of the world needs me.
Tune my heart into the calling
that I uniquely am here to receive and embody.
Give inspiration for the days when I feel lost and uncertain
how to contribute from the center of my being,
in union with the eternal “I Am” that you are. Amen.
— Peter Traben Haas, from Centering Prayers
Blessings for the Journey,