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Center for Action and Contemplation
The Soul of Nature
The Soul of Nature

The Soul of Nature: Weekly Summary

Saturday, March 9, 2024

While calling ourselves intelligent, we’ve lost touch with the natural world. As a result, we’ve lost touch with our own souls. I believe we can’t access our full intelligence and wisdom without some real connection to nature. —Richard Rohr

One of the foundational reasons for our sense of isolation and unhappiness is that we have lost our contact with nature.
—Richard Rohr

After almost fifty years of being a Franciscan Sister, I learned that beauty for Franciscan theologians and philosophers is the ultimate and most intimate knowing of God, another name for God, the name for God.
—Marya Grathwohl

We will be spiritually nourished by this world or we will be starved for spiritual nourishment. No other revelatory experience can do for the human what the experience of the natural world does.
—Thomas Berry

What can we give back through a pattern of reciprocity to a planet that gives us so much? What will make the more-than-human creation glad that we are here?
—Debra Rienstra

I’m not saying that God is all things or that all things are God (pantheism). I am saying that each living thing reveals some aspect of God. God is greater than the whole of our universe, and as Creator inter-penetrates all created things (panentheism).
—Richard Rohr

Week Ten Practice

Breathing with the Earth

Mindfulness teacher Susan Bauer-Wu invites us into a way of praying with and for the Earth:

Please start by grounding yourself with the Earth beneath you. Pay attention to how your feet or any other part of your body that is touching the floor is placed. Notice how you are rooted, through a chair or floor, to the Earth and how she literally holds you up—unconditionally, effortlessly, compassionately….

Notice your incoming breath—the air entering your nostrils, your mouth, filling up your belly…. Every aspect of you right now, the air that fills your lungs, the clothes that you wear, the food you ate today, all of that comes from outside of you. This ever-present, life-encompassing, compassionate Earth sustains you. You are part of this effortless cycle of give-and-take. You are participating in an exchange with the elements, with other living beings, with the Earth herself. With each inhale, breathe in the Earth’s compassion and with each exhale, breathe out gratitude.

Relax here in this indivisible connection with all that surrounds you; breathe in compassion, and breathe out gratitude.

Now comes the hard part. Visualize a place or being or community you love that is suffering from climate and environmental harm…. Resting in and rooted by the compassion and gratitude you hold, I want you to access your intention, your motivation to alleviate the suffering of your beloved. Now, when you inhale, breathe in their suffering; and when you exhale, breathe out your compassion….

When you are ready … let yourself inhale the Earth’s gratitude for your existence; and when you exhale, offer the compassion and love you have for her. You are inextricably connected with her in every moment and there is no division here.


Susan Bauer-Wu with Stephanie Higgs, A Future We Can Love: How We Can Reverse the Climate Crisis with the Power of Our Hearts and Minds (Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications, 2023), 68, 69, 70.

Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled Porcupine (detail), New Mexico, 2023, photograph, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

“I relate tradition to habit, one of my habits brings me to my nature walks, where I see the same scenery, the same foliage, the same animals. Yet none of these are the same, they have their own unique progression.” —Benjamin Yazza, photographer

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