Sunday, April 19, 2015
When I think of Earth Day, I think about gratitude. In Native American traditions, humans are to welcome the sunrise with gratitude and be thankful at the end of the day for the sunset and for all the blessings that come between sunrise and sunset. How many of us begin each new day at sunrise and take time to start the day with gratitude in our hearts? Gratitude for being able to get out of bed and be consciously present in that moment of sunrise. How many of us end each day being thankful for all that has happened in our lives as the sun sets?
Earth Day is a great time for us to think about extending our gratitude to Mother Earth, the Great Spirit who birthed us, nourishes us, and reclaims us at the end of our days. How can we be grateful to Mother Earth in new ways?
How often do you go outdoors and actually touch a tree, or a bush, or a flower, or a rock or the dirt in your garden? Do you take a walk and just look at everything around you? Or do you listen for the songs of the birds, the wind whispering in the trees, or the bawling of young calves? Do you smell the fragrances of spring? Do you touch the fresh new buds and leaves, the tiny tender shoots of life? Do you stop to feel the warm sun on your cheeks or the wind blowing across your hair? Do you close your eyes and reach out with your inner senses to open to the stirrings of new life? I invite you to do all of these things when you go outdoors after the service when we go out into the Park to walk the Medicine Wheel. Come alive to spring. Come alive to Mother Earth and be filled with gratitude. Let's make this a thank-you walk. Wake up your body and your mind and your feelings to a new dimension of sensations. The Medicine Wheel walk is a thank-you or a gratitude walk.
You can take a thank-you walk any time. Even if all you do is walk down the driveway to pick up the morning paper, look around you and be thankful. Even if all you do is walk from your car to the market, look around you and be thankful. There are so many opportunities to do a thank-you walk.
On these walks be mindful of what you can do to nurture Mother Earth. Pick up the trash you find. Gather the broken limbs. Spread your leftover seeds in public parkways. Help a friend plant a garden or weed. Hug your trees, talk to your plants, commune with your rocks. Water a plant that is thirsty. Feed the birds and squirrels and other wildlife, not to tame them but to nurture them. Make Mother Earth beautiful once again.
Extending gratitude to Mother Earth also means extending gratitude to each other for we all live on this beautiful planet together. Thank the person who opens the door for you, or picks up something you dropped. Thank the child for her smile, the Elder for his wisdom. Thank all beings who live here on Mother Earth for their lessons. Even the tiny mosquito has a lesson to teach us.
Do generous random acts of kindness, especially to yourself. Smile and laugh more. Lighten up. There's no need to be so serious. Joy is one of God's most precious gifts.
To celebrate joy and be mindful of what children teach us, I want to share some Thoughts on Life from Kids. (Read paper).
While your heart and mind are open to joy, I also want to share some mindful thoughts. Everyone smile as you listen to these. (Read paper).
Everyone and everything is sacred. You are a holy child of a holy planet, speeding through space and time in a holy galaxy in a holy universe. There is no way that you cannot sense the grandeur of who and what you are, a tiny bit of consciousness in this vast universe of God. Expand your gratitude to include this feeling of grandeur, this wondrous moment in time. And realize that all of creation is wondrous. It isn't ugly or dirty or mean or evil. It is beautiful, wonderful, good and pure. See with new eyes. You are a unique bit of this wonder and your life is important to the whole. In the theory of everything you are just as sacred as any book, any life, any thought.
At the end of the day only gratitude remains in the wonder of life. The Navajo people tell us: "Walk on a rainbow trail, walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty." We are so grateful. Let us walk in beauty.