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The need of the time is to restore the sacredness of creation, in our lives and in the world at large. As always, the question is how. How can I, or any of us, do this in a time where that sacredness is trampled underfoot at seemingly every quarter? Talk is good; increasing the awareness of the problem is useful. Even recognizing that it exists seems a herculean task, in a society bent on ignoring it. But it is hardly enough. Because we can‟t save the society at large, or change its attitudes with a single sweep of the hand. What we can do, however, is take our essential and manifold humanity, which participates in all levels of being at once, and bring that energy into our moment-by-moment interactions with creation. “Be always mindful of what you are thinking and doing, so that you may put the imprint of your immortality on every passing incidence and instant of your daily life.” The American Sufi teacher Samuel Lewis constantly spoke of the need for putting things in practice, as opposed to just talking about them. He even chose his burial place because the people there “practice, practice, practice what others only preach, preach, preach.” The secret of practicing something is that it brings into the sphere of creation that sacred energy—the imprint of our immortality—which otherwise will be left hanging in the mental spheres. It is why actions speak louder than words. As Divine Witnesses in the world, human beings are uniquely equipped to do this. Our hearts touch and reflect all the different realms of creation, even when we are not conscious of it, and because of this our actions can bring those realms into existence here. We already have physical evidence of how prayer can change water, but this is only a small part of what lies in any one of us. Because this isn‟t something apart from us, that happened somewhere else in a special gathering; it resides in our blood and our bones and our awareness. To bring the “imprint of your immortality” into your daily life requires making an actual connection with the creation, in whatever form. It is like drawing a line from your heart to whatever being you are connecting with, even the table that you eat at. Recognize its existence. Who has not felt the extraordinary leap of joy that occurs when we are “recognized” in this fashion, for who we really are or what we try to do for the lives of others? And why should it be different for any part of creation? In point of fact it isn‟t; which is why the ancient Chinese had a saying, “The best fertilizer is the footsteps of the farmer.” When we consciously draw that line from our heart and bear witness in this manner, the immortal energies that reside in our heart go out to that being or beings. Whether you call it „love‟ or any other name, the mushroom at your feet feels the gift of your attention, and that attention in turn calls forth the sacred qualities in it. Modern, busy lives tend to deflect us from this. But the opportunities are there, because this being is in every aspect and object of our lives. All we have to do is recognize them, and witness their connections to us. Be grateful for what they bring us. The desk provides a place to work, where you can earn a living to feed your family. The car or bus or train gets you to that desk. If we recognize these things daily, imagining what our lives would be without them, and give them gratitude, our heart will do the rest. Even if we are not aware of it. The opportunities for this are endless. Each of us eats to stay alive. And everything we eat came somewhere from a plant or animal or some other part of creation. They have sacrificed something so that we might bear witness. Thanking them for their lives is only appropriate. And we can extend our gratitude with our awareness. Putting honey and lemon in a cup of tea, for instance, I can think of the bees and their extraordinary effort to produce that honey, and be
grateful to the flowers that gave the bees what they needed, the miraculous web of life necessary for those flowers to exist, for the sun and the rainfall and the oneness of creation that makes it possible. Squeezing the lemon I can be grateful not only to the lemon but to the tree that produced it far away somewhere, the elements that went into the making of the fruit. Even to the camellia that produced the leaves that made the tea, and all that went into the gathering and drying and transport of them to my kitchen. And the secret is, I don‟t have to see the tree or the bees or the camellia for it to have an effect. Because what moves through the human heart is not confined to space and time and our concepts. It is an imprint of immortality, of sacredness and respect, that can go where we direct it. It‟s why our prayers for people apart from us sometimes have amazing effects. And how much more if we are present. If we talk to a plant, recognize a tree for its beauty or grandeur, a bird for its song or graceful flight. Draw a line between our heart and this being. Walk over and caress a leaf, stroke its softness across my cheek, feel a tenderness between myself and the tree. Sit down with a mushroom or a grasshopper, if only for a little while. Stop and witness the shapes of clouds. Recognize the sacredness, and what that being brings to life, your life as well as others. A park bench, for instance: how much it brings to everyone who comes to sit. Refuge; respite; relief. A pause of sunlit moments. Everything recognized in this fashion becomes a part of oneness, both inside you and in creation. That is what our immortality calls forth. But we have to do it, not just talk about it. Otherwise the sacred cannot be grounded in this reality, the connection to oneness cannot be called forth. There are other opportunities as well. To refrain from a destructive act is also a form of recognition. It says, you are also a being, to which I wish no harm. Shifting your steps to avoid a flower or an ant, refrain from wasting things because it seems inconvenient, using water only when you need it—all these can be forms of prayer. Of bearing witness to the oneness of which you are a part, and conducting yourself responsibly as a part of that oneness. Or to plant and tend: flowers, vegetables, trees. Growing something that you eat completes a whole cycle, and is a prayerful practice in itself. You cannot help being aware of oneness when you do this. The little English rhyme, “One is nearer God‟s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth” carries more truth in it than first appears. Because when you practice something like this daily, with care and gratitude, you bring something back into creation that has lately been absent. Restore a damaged landscape; goodness knows there are enough of those available. Landscapes are not instantaneous, trucked in and stuffed into the ground. They require an awareness of the rhythms of life and the interlocked processes which shape that particular part of life. Most times it is an incremental process, first a little of one thing, then something else. A patience and persistence in the prayer that is your tending. The plants will often become like your children. And as you become aware of these processes, you also see more the interconnected nature of all of life around you, and realize how far the assumptions of modern society have strayed from that awareness. You don‟t have to be a shaman or a realized being to do this. All you have to have is a heart. When you recognize another being, and draw that line from your heart to it in whatever way you might—feeling, ritual, a spoken word, a silent gesture, watering, pruning, a tender touch—you bring the sacred back into the creation. Because you are made that way, through your heart and your awareness. It is your job as a human being, after all. All that is required is for you to attend to it.
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