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Contemplating Creation

Creation-Centered Prayer

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

Contemplating Creation

Creation-Centered Prayer
Thursday, October 14, 2021

In a conference on Franciscan mysticism, Fr. Richard reminded the audience that the presence of God is available in all things and at all times:

The spiritual nature of reality, and the material, the physical, have been one ever since the Big Bang. The incarnation did not just happen 2,000 years ago; rather, matter and spirit have been one since God decided to manifest himself/herself. . . .

Christ is everywhere. The entire planet is anointed and messianic, if you will. All bears the Christ mystery. The whole point of going to communion in church is to sacramentalize the universe. We’re not only in communion when we go to communion. We’re always in communion when we learn this. We’re in communion driving to church. We’re in communion walking up the steps of the church. We’re in communion at the bathroom break. We’re in communion when we’re in nature.

Franciscan sister José Hobday (1929–2009), a personal friend of Richard’s and a beloved presence in the early years of the CAC, was a Seneca elder, an author, and a storyteller. She writes of how she learned to “pray always” from the Native American spirituality of her mother, which honored this sense of being in constant communion and harmony with God in all things.  

My mother prayed as a Native American. That meant she saw living as praying and praying as living. She tried to pray her life. She expressed her prayer of gratitude, for example, in the way she did things. She told me many times, “When you stir oatmeal, stir it slowly so you don’t forget that oatmeal is a gift and that you don’t take it for granted.”

She made a prayer out of the way she stirred oatmeal. Doing things prayerfully. That reflected her approach to prayer. She always did that. She even did it in the way she walked. She taught me and my brothers to walk with our hearts high and to walk softly on the earth because the earth is our mother. . . . As we walked, she said, we should be ready to enter into every movement of beauty we encountered. . . .

So, what things have I learned from Native American spirituality? First, to make my prayer creation-centered. Indians pray as relatives of the earth. They consider the sky their father, the earth their mother. The sun can be a brother or a sister. This makes you a creature with a relationship to creation, not someone above it or better than it. . . .

In our prayer, we might very well reflect on . . . creatures, and their relationship with creation. That is what Native Americans have done. It has not only kept them in touch with creation, but with the Creator as well. [1]

References:

[1] José Hobday, Stories of Awe and Abundance (Sheed & Ward: 1995), 12, 13.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That Which I Am Seeking, disc 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2012), CD, MP3 download.

Story from Our Community:
For the last 40 years, I have had the gift of working with people who are profoundly Deaf, who communicate in Sign Language. I have learned that they think in pictures, not words. This has opened up for me a whole new way of experiencing God’s creation and God’s relationship with each of us. I feel such a connection that is almost impossible to put into words. —Barbara H.

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Image Credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 2 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to Dr. B as part of an exploration into contemplative photography and she returned this wonderful photo.
Image Inspiration: These bright flowers are striking in contrast to the muted tones of the bush from which they come. Their beauty grabs for our attention as an invitation to lose ourselves in this present moment.
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