I have been looking at the area in which I live with new eyes this week. A friend visited from the US and noted the number of places of worship there are around my home. We decided to make a little pilgrimage, visiting the Episcopalian Cathedral, the Buddhist Centre, the Mosque, the Ignatian Spirituality Centre and the Catholic Cathedral of St Andrew. But we also visited the River Clyde on our way which seemed most appropriate. Pat wondered why so many faiths had set up places of worship in the area. I had no idea and presumed it was for economic reasons but perhaps there is an energy and dearest freshness deep down things that I have not been aware of before. Even realising this possibility helps me look beneath the surface. It is true what it says in Matthew's gospel ' we have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear'. We need to look beyond the obvious and to do so is to put us in touch with those interconnecting energies as a source of inspiration and strength.
Another source of energy this week has been Glasgow's Botanic Gardens. I spent a day there with some deacons from the Church of Scotland. It was a quiet day, a day of mindfulness to allow us to slow down, to ponder, to gaze, to smell, to touch the world of which we are part. We were invited to look upon creation with love and compassion, reverence and respect, to care for it and its inhabitants, to listen to its cries and concerns, to offer healing and hope, to take it further on its journey towards wholeness and love. This we did by simply looking, seeing that dearest freshness, deep down things and opening our hearts to welcome in all that we saw. The sun was shining, the water sparkling and the park packed with new born babies and pregnant women as well as older people, couples, families, some people reading, some playing games, others just sitting. It was easy to feel the interconnectedness of all things, to feel the warmth of the sun, to breathe in peace and breathe out peace to others. I often walk in the Botanic Gardens but realise how seldom I do so mindfully and what a wonderful day of retreat it can be.
But this beauty and grandeur is not the whole story and we know our world is in danger and in need of healing and wholeness. As John Muir reminds us ' the battle for conservation will go on endlessly. It is part of the universal battle between right and wrong.' But on days when the sun is shining and all seems well with the world we can rejoice that ' it is a privilege to be alive at this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.' ( Joanna Macey). Recognising the sacredness of it all can help do just that.