Speaking of Religion | Nature birthing a new, unfamiliar hope

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"Witnessing these ancient rock formations and glorious, short-lived flowers, birthed a new, unfamiliar HOPE in me."

By Marsh Hudson-Knapp

Recently I experienced a "magical" time three days in Joshua Tree National Park during "super bloom." I took 1,000 photos walking the fields of glory. If heaven is half that beautiful I'm ready! It's hard to convey the experience of discovering flower after flower exploding in their moment in the sun.

If I didn't believe in God (the Life-Force — or whatever name might point you toward the mysterious love, creativity, and resiliency that is forever at work), it would be hard to understand this unending diversity. The explosively beautiful huge and tiny blooms — their complexity, their glory, their uniqueness . it's perplexing to me why we people take such delight in diversity in nature and become frightened by it, judge and try to stop it in our fellow humans. How do these flowers thrive? Is God showing us something for OUR life?

One of the discoveries for me was community among the plants and shrubs. I witnessed the nurturing relationship of differing plants. Many "wild" flowers only live because they shelter one another. I kept noticing what seemed to be divine flower arrangements, the way God/Life clusters differently colored, shaped, sized, natured plants. They need and support each another. The most vulnerable (at least in their beginnings) only had a chance in the shelter of big defenders. In each neighborhood families formed, like today's human families of growing diversity.

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These experiences showed me God's hope for us: in sheltering and sustaining one another, Life's "arrangement" of us is beautiful and life-giving. In devastating times both our diversity and our mutual support, no matter how difficult to sustain, offer hopes for new life through every storm, whatever it may be and however it may unfold.

To me, witnessing Joshua Tree's ancient rock formations and glorious, short-lived flowers, birthed a new, unfamiliar HOPE in me. Even as I watch the devastation of our government, our "civilization," and our earth, and as fear for the future, the trials facing coming generations and human life altogether, fears that grow with every news report the ongoing creativity and "life" in the billions of years of geology and the brief moments of flowering I witnessed have led my Spirit to a place of calming, trusting and opening to a deeper sense of identity.

When the surface of the earth was reorganizing into continents God, the creative life-force of the universe, was working. Even as stars and our earth formed, God was working and She's only just begun!

As I surrender my often fear-filled sense of self as little, isolated Marsh my love, compassion, and identity is opening ever-wider to other people, other beings, all of nature, and ultimately to LIFE a great peace settles into my heart even while I work to influence our relationship with the environment, our government, and our people either side of every border. I need this hope and this stretching of identity. It feels like a precious spiritual gift. I pray somehow I might pass it along to you.

Marsh Hudson-Knapp is an active member of Second Congregational Church UCC, a Green Justice and Open and Affirming Congregation.


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