A Walk in the Park

by Melannie Svoboda SND on October 3, 2016

I drive to the park to go for a walk. It is a lovely Fall day. Late morning. As I pull into the parking lot, I notice something unusual: there are no other cars around. I walk across the bridge that leads to the path that goes around the lake. Before I set off on my walk, I pause and scan the area. I see no one. No one is walking a dog, no one is jogging, no one is fishing from one of the docks. “I’m alone!” I say with excitement. “All alone!”

But as soon as I utter those words, I smile. Although I may be the only human being in the park this morning, I amimg_2536 certainly not alone! What about all the other living beings in the park with me? I see birds flying around—a few goldfinches and crows. I spot a group of geese sitting in the lake holding some kind of convention. I notice a couple of bees and I am startled by two grasshoppers, those masters of the broad jump. They show off their athletic prowess to me as I pass by. Whiz… kerplunk. Whiz… kerplunk.

And what about all the living things I can’t see? The bluegill and bass in the lake. The turtles I’ve met on occasion who call this lake home. Then there’s the brown and white snake I spotted a few weeks ago skimming the water along the shore. Is he (or she) here this morning, I wonder? And don’t forget the elusive deer, the rabbits, the raccoons, and the bats who are probably hanging upside down asleep in the bat house that was erected for them.

img_2527And how could I forget all the worms, beetles, snails, and slugs, and other creatures hiding in the grass or burrowing beneath the ground or living under the bark of a tree? And let’s not forget the flora—the plants and bushes of all kinds as well as the trees—the willow, oak, ash, and maple with their leaves already turning orange and red and yellow.

No, I say to myself, I am not alone. There are thousands of other living things with me today in this park. And why should I limit my awareness only to living things? What about all the so-called “inanimate” beings that are with me as I walk—the earth I tread upon, the rocks along the shore of the lake, the sun and clouds above me, the air I breathe, and the beautiful lake itself sparkling in the sun. Aren’t all of these things beings too? And where is God in all of this? I agree with what Barbara Brown Taylor writes: God is not merely responsible for this creation, this connectedness and unity I feel. Rather  “God is the unity—the very energy, the very intelligence, the very elegance and passion that make it all go.”

As I walked in the park today I prayed this simple prayer: Companion God, make me more aware and appreciative of all the other img_0278beings who accompany me in this life with their beauty, uniqueness, and mystery. Creator God, you hold everything together. You are the unity, the energy, the love who sustains all of creation. Help me to reverence my connectedness with all things and (most importantly) my oneness with you. Amen.

(This reflection is adapted from my book, By the Way: 100 Reflections on the Spiritual Life. The pictures are from the Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve where this walk took place. The park is located south of Chardon Square on Route 44.)

Our song today is “Song of Creation” by Daniel and Catherine Lovette. It captures the theme of our oneness with all of creation.

 

 

 

Have you ever had an experience where you felt your oneness with creation?

If we were really aware of our connectedness with creation, would we live any differently?

Is there some aspect of creation that makes you feel close to God?

I’d love to hear from you!

PS: This past week I gave a talk entitled “How to Be People of Hope in Today’s World” at Holy Rosary Parish in Erie, PA. I want to thank Fr. John and the parishioners at his two parishes (St. John is the other parish) for their warm welcome, their attentiveness, and their liveliness. They really inspired me!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Magiera October 3, 2016 at 4:58 am

When I look at the stars at 5am in the morning, I feel the oneness of creation! Thanks for the reminder Sr. Melannie.

Kathleen

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Mary Therese October 3, 2016 at 9:57 am

Thanks for the reflection on the “little” parts of nature as well as the things we seldom miss (sunrises, sunset, stars, water, mountains, etc.) Yes to the beetles under the bark and the snake swimming in the water. I just read that bees have now been placed on the endangered species list. Thank you for a lovely reflection to begin the week with Sister Melannie!

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Rose October 3, 2016 at 11:13 am

Thank you for the beautiful reflections of enjoying creation in all its wonders.

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Herb October 3, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Sister Melannie Thank You for the wonderfull reflection.As I near 92 I look back with joy the SND who taught me the first 8 yrs.Ladys who dedicated their lives to teaching.As my hearing dims hearing the birds singing reminds me Gods wonderful creation.

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Rosemary October 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Good morning dear Melanie
I relate to this reflection completely. I am blessed to live in a Metro Park
and share God’s Earth with all the creatures and critters you describe, except the water ones. I pray aloud as I greet these “land mates “, and explain to my little Babette (a Havanese puppy) about our friends and not barking at them! I am so blessed to be able to help care for woodland creatures, and my heart overflows… I so enjoy your offerings each Monday..YOU make my week blessed☘️

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Jane Oliver October 3, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Thank you !!!
How appropriate for a lead- in to the Feast of St. Francis , which I will be celebrating with my community.
Peace and all good!!!!

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Jack Lau, OMI October 3, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Thanks for your reflection Melanie it look like my Aunt was also was touched by your insights. Your insights allowed me to take a breath and look around with purpose and mindfulness at the beauty of the novitiate on the Mighty Mississippi.

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Tom October 3, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Thanks, for the beautiful photos of the lake at Walter Best Preserve, one of my hallowed places of refuge in Chardon. If we were really aware of the splendor of creation all around us, our lives would not be made up mainly of moments when we are on our way to somewhere else

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John Hopkins October 3, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Hi Sister Melannie,

Thank you for another lovely meditation. Your sudden awareness of the ALL was humble and beautiful!

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Martine October 4, 2016 at 9:11 am

Thank you for the beautiful meditation. I believe we need to take the time and enjoy the “elegance” of God’s creation.

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Karen Hartman October 4, 2016 at 2:58 pm

I truly appreciate this reflection on this the feast of Francis. He, too, was a lover of all of God’s creatures. I will more liesurly take my evenng walk today. Thanks.

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Helen Leider October 4, 2016 at 4:08 pm

When I was a young girl down on a farm in Southern MN, I used to love to lay on the ground and look up at the sky, I always felt like I was the only person in the world at that moment, the sky belonged to me.

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Carol Di Marco October 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Thank you Melanie, for your meditation that opened my eyes to the oneness of all of God’s creation.
As I read your words, I am visiting the mountains of Northeastern Utah. Their majesty brings me closer to God.

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