The Saint of the month for April is us. This is not an attempt to get out of studying Canonized Saints or Holy People. It is, an attempt to show the ways there is a presence of God and our connection into sacredness, even when we are not in church. To hopefully, be able to see one of numberless ways, that we participate as Christians with one another along our paths of life.
Think for just a moment about nature. This can be a special place in nature or a creation of nature within our imagination. Next, think about some of the iconically beautiful or unique parts of nature. Now think of how some of the least likely parts of nature, can hold abundant beauty. That all hold an element of God, when the heavens and the Earth were created. (Genesis 1:1-2)
This sends me thinking of several things such as the intricate yet simple beauty of a diamond. A diamond is derived from coal and formed through heat and pressure. A pearl forms in an oyster shell in the dark from irritation. A lotus flower grows up out of the mud. Then an emerald is four elements, also heated and found like us outcasts along the edges of rocks.
As an outcast, we know from experience that beauty is always present, whether someone else sees it or not. This also means that we first see it in ourselves, before we are able to fully see it in others. (Mark 12:31) Furthermore, once we are open to accepting our inner beauty, this is when we can step into the wise awareness that Saint Francis offered, of finding God in all of nature. As an outcast it can be easy to see, in objects such as flowers, trees and gentle flowing streams, because they do not judge us as others may. Furthermore, there is an opportunity to be aware of God’s presence, in all of creation, with the full sensory awareness of God experienced through shifts of the seasons. There are waves of colors changing, with a cornucopia of sounds and all expressions of flavorful earthy smells continually evolving all around us.
Perhaps it is the diverse spiritual journey I have been on, has helped me connect with nature within the gospel. In some ways, it might have been the time that I was a practicing Buddhist, that I first began to see our collection of cells that connect us humans and all other parts within creation. That we as a human being, with our flesh and blood, also come from the Earth. Although our human growth is different from watching seedlings pierce the soil, developing into beautiful plants, shrubs or trees. We bring into our bodies the nourishment of the Earth in fruits, vegetables and other foods. Those foods, whether nourished by the grains or fed from the rains, connect us to the Cosmic Christ. This is a time when we can use the Eucharist and communion as reminders of our connection to God and to others, through things of the Earth.
There is a cycle of life in all of creation, where we connect with spirit in differently tangible ways. We like the flowers and seedlings, have a lot happening before we and others are often aware. God works in our lives in ways we may not yet know and is where our time of contemplative sitting within scripture allows the Holy Spirit to nourish us. This allows the fruits of the spirit within us to develop and fully bloom. (Galatians 5:22)
This makes me wonder if part of our path as outcasts, is being patient even when unaware of the gifts God has prepared for us, while we continue exploring our spirituality. Perhaps that is part of the reminders we are given, whether weekly in our spiritual homes or in the simple loving-kindness gestures from others. Another reminder can also be, noticing the abundant beauty bursting forward around us. To also recognize that the fruits of the spirit are nourished, lived through and given in different ways to each of us. (1 Peter 4:10-11) This is part of the benefits of being in a spiritual community, even for those of us who are outcasts, because it can help us find the unique ways we connect within scripture. To try to remember, even though we may be an outcast there will be common threads we share with others, even with our different experiences.
For me, this overlap of lives came into awareness differently one spring while working in the garden. A neighborhood man whom I knew was from Bhutan was walking by, I paused standing from gardening to bow greeting to speak the Hindu greeting, of Namastè. The man bowed back, then stopped a couple of steps later to, bow at the flowers in the garden, to turned toward me smiling. Through a conversation of hand gestures, smiles and nods, he departed with flowers divided from our garden. That moment felt like I do during and after the Eucharist, of being reminded of my participation in something greater than myself. The gratitude I hold of of that moment, that I chose the actions I hope were received in the loving-kindness (Psalm 69:16) they were offered. I saw it connecting into the everlasting life and hopefully the exchange of loving-kindness continued to ripple forward from that moment.
The garden is no longer ours, it belongs to someone else, just as those flowers were once ours and given to someone else. The communion of saints, includes our daily actions of living through the gospels, to tell our truth through the life we live as a Christian. Althought at times, this might feel more like sifting through silt while forgetting that it also holds shiny golden flecks. Just how grace and mercy are given to us without question, in the midst of our everyday.
That also as an outcast, we know the feeling of not being wanted, of not being noticed like a tiny seed tossed to the side. To not forget, that while not being noticed, laying there in the darkness of the soil, we too are brave enough to allow the presence of the Holy Spirit in the form of water, light and air to nourish us. To also know, that the more we are present within the communion of saints, the easier it becomes to see the beauty we all possess. That is the love that was given to us by God gave through Jesus.