taking the words of Jesus seriously

Have you had your awe and wonder sighting for today? If not it’s time to go out and take notice. Our daily experience of life, God and God’s world are meant to inspire us with awe and wonder. Our failure to notice the miracles around us is a failure of the spirit as well as the senses. An increasing number of people are designating April as Earth month, others are calling the week around Earth Day (April 22nd) Earth Week.  It is a good time to re-attune our senses and a fitting way to develop an awe and wonder habit.  We are still in Eastertide, a great season for noticing and responding in awe to the presence of Jesus in us, and around us, not just in people we meet but in the creation as well. Jesus is constantly appearing in our midst but we rarely seem to take notice.

My Senses Are Awakened to Read God’s Presence.

In The Gift of Wonder, I talk about the practice of Lectio Tierra, a great way to attune our senses to the wonder of God. This practice is similar to Lectio Divina from which it is adapted. However, for me, it is a deeper experience because it involves movement and engages all the senses. 

Heading out into God’s very good creation, I read the environment around me. How is God present? What might God be using to catch my eye and draw me closer?  As I walk slowly and deliberately through the forest, I might stop to and examine an ancient tree, or casually walking through my garden I brush against my lavender bush and am captivated by the wonderful aroma, or on a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls I listen to the music of water cascading over rocks, my senses are awakened to “read” God’s presence. This is a practice that engages all the senses, my eyes, ears, touch, smell and sometimes taste, all open to what God might reveal to me. Anything that catches my attention and shimmers with the presence of God provides fuel for reflection.

A couple of weeks ago, my eyes were drawn to the gnarled and twisted branches of my old sage bush growing vigorously in my back yard.

I stop, look and listen, not forcing a revelation but waiting in silence for God to nudge me. I reached out and picked a leaf, and gasped in awe at the fragrance that clings to my fingers. I remember the times I picked leaves to flavour soups and chicken dishes for hospitality meals. We made smudge sticks and the burning of them provided a rich and pungent fragrance to the air. What other stories does it hold I wonder? How might it speak to me of God, now, today? 

Now I Meditate

Now I meditate. What lessons Jesus do you want me to learn through this sage bush, this leaf? I run my hands along the soft furry surface, of the leaf, then crush it between my fingers and am transported back in time. Sage has a very long and rich history due to both its medicinal and culinary uses. At one time, the French produced bountiful crops of sage for tea. Ironically the Chinese became enamored with French sage tea and would trade four pounds of Chinese tea for every one pound of sage tea. The Romans considered it had healing properties and for native Americans it is an important ceremonial plant, used by many tribes as an incense and purifying herb. I know it best for its culinary properties. I love to use it when I roast chicken or make vegetable soup.

It is possible that the burning bush in Exodus 3 is sage I remember. Should I like Moses take off my shoes as I meditate and acknowledge that in the presence of this small part of God’s creation I stand on holy ground?

I Pray

Now I pray. I thank God for this gift to so many cultures across the globe and throughout time and am reminded of Revelation 8:4 “The smoke of the incense mixed with the prayers of God’s people and billowed up before God.” I thank God for the fragrance that clings to me, and for the incense that rises from my life as I too am crushed and prepared for use. Perhaps others will brush against me and be awed by the incense of God in my life. Perhaps others will seek me out to add to their lives and savor who they are with the presence of God. I hope that my fragrance and flavor will continue to cling to others and be shared with all that I meet.

Lastly I contemplate

The last step is contemplation. I pause, running my hands over the fragrant fragments in my hand. I look around at the other plants in my garden. Some are greening after a long winter’s rest. Others are in bloom vibrant with color and fragrant with their own perfume. I am not alone. Incense rises to God from every part of this garden and from every person to raises a prayer to God. I breathe in and absorb the insights God has given me that enable me to move into a place of rest and peace. I can receive love, healing and grace from God, together with those around me, and with the witnesses of every tribe and nation that have gone before me. I feel at one with God’s world and will all that help me move towards God’s wholeness.

Often in response to this experience I write poetry. Today I finish with this Ute prayer that I found many years ago and my heart overflows with thanksgiving.

Earth Teach Me to Remember
Earth teach me stillness
as the grasses are stilled with light.
Earth teach me suffering
as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility
as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth Teach me caring
as the mother who secures her young.
Earth teach me courage
as the tree which stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation
as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
as the eagle which soars in the sky.
Earth teach me resignation
as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
as the seed which rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself
as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness
as dry fields weep in the rain.

What might it look like to enter into Lectio Tierra?

About The Author


Christine Aroney-Sine is the founder and facilitator for the popular contemplative blog Godspace, (godspacelight.com) which grew out of her passion for creative spirituality, gardening and sustainability. ******************************************************************************** Christine describes herself as a contemplative activist, passionate gardener, author, and liturgist. She loves messing with church traditions and inspiring followers of Jesus to develop creative approaches to spirituality that intertwine the sacred through all of life. She facilitates workshops on contemplative and creative spiritual practices, spirituality and gardening, simplicity and sustainability as well as how to develop a more spiritual rhythm for our lives. She often encourages participants to paint rocks or leaves, plant contemplative gardens, walk labyrinths and create spiritual pathways that draw us into deeper intimacy with God. Christine is inspired by Celtic Christian spirituality, which has opened her eyes to the God who is present in every moment, every experience and every place. She is open to learning from everyone and everything around. ******************************************************************************** Together with her husband, Tom, Christine also co-founded Mustard Seed Associates a small organization that encourages followers of Jesus to think about how the world is changing and how we need to change to be more effective in the future. ******************************************************************************** In a former life Christine trained as a physician in Australia ,practiced in New Zealand and developed and directed the healthcare ministry for Mercy Ships. She spent 12 years on board the mercy ship M/V Anastasis facilitating the development of a program for cleft lip and palate repair and cataract removal as well as setting up medical and dental clinics to help bring health care to the world’s most vulnerable. She has worked extensively in Africa, Asia, Caribbean Islands, Central America and South Pacific. She no longer practices medicine but delights in guiding people towards the health and wholeness of God’s new world. ******************************************************************************** Her latest book, is published in March 2019 by InterVarsity Press is The Gift of Wonder:Creative Practices For Delighting in God. She also self published several books in the last few years, a bit of a hobby for her: Digging Deeper: the Art of Contemplative Gardening (2022) Rest in the Moment: Reflections for Godly Pauses.(2016), Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray (2012), To Garden with God (2010) L and Tales of a Seasick Doctor (Zondervan 1996). Christine and Tom Sine also co-authored Living on Purpose: Finding God’s Best for Your Life. (Baker Books 2002). ******************************************************************************** You can connect to her on twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristineSine, or Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/christine.sine, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christine.sine/, Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/christinesine/,and Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Christinesine

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