by Marjorie George
The assignment was to go into nature and create something. Those were all the instructions we were given – no drawing paper, no crayons, no diagrams to follow. Just go create something.
I headed for my favorite nature spot — the grounds of the Bishop Jones Center, the 19-acre site of trees and hills and paths and plants and fountains and flowers that is home to the Diocese of West Texas.
Wandering the grounds in search of a destination I knew not where, I followed rock paths and climbed over bushes; it was a warm and muggy morning, and as I batted away clouds of teeny little creatures swirling around my head, I found that I consistently lost my way. I was familiar with the property; even so, I was not sure where the paths were leading. Sometimes I would end up back at my starting place, sometimes not. Sometimes I knew where I was, sometimes not. I noticed how frequently the paths offered no indication as to where they were leading beyond the horizon I could see at that moment. A path might make a sudden turn or a quick drop, taking a direction that I could not see from my current vantage point.
Eventually I climbed down a steep path and landed in a small clearing. Preparing to follow yet another path out, I noticed a pile of small sticks and wondered what I could create with them. I picked them up and separated them one from another, categorizing them by size.
Looking to the right of the path I had just come from, I saw some rock steps that rose to a drop-off point at the top beyond which I could not see. I planted the bigger sticks at the bottom of the steps and the smaller sticks a few steps beyond that. The smaller sticks were beginning their journey; the bigger ones were cheering them on. When I was done, I had created an assemblage of pilgrims on their way – old ones, young ones, bent and worn ones, fresh and green ones.
Then I noticed that I was now behind and below the columbarium, a large stone structure on the property with niches that hold the ashes of the deceased. The steps led up to it, and though I could not see it, I knew it was there. And there are the cremains of my parents.
What is it that the Spirit is telling me? Where I am being led? I decided the message must be that I am to listen to my elders – those who are so much wiser than am I. I tried to come up with a list of who that might be, but it did not feel right.
As I got into my car and prepared to leave the Jones Center, it suddenly hit me. The message is not that I am supposed to listen to my elders; the message is that the whole Communion of Saints – the elders — holds me as I make my journey. I must continue on this journey that has begun though I do not see the way ahead. There will be swirling bugs and missteps and bushes that reach out and scratch and snag me, but I am not alone. The Communion of Saints – all those who have made the journey and all those who are now making the journey and the whole of creation – holds me, surrounds me, protects me, leads me.
In the beginning, God called forth creation. He spoke, and it appeared (Genesis 1 and 2). We speak of God’s act of creation as being ex nihilo – out of nothing, but I think another way to say that is God called forth creation from God’s self. God’s essence is the basis and the sustenance of all of creation. What is revealed to us in creation is a revelation of God himself.
When we co-create with God, when we enter into the act of creation — whether it be writing a poem or giving birth to a child or shoving some scraggly sticks into the ground — we are participating in God. We transcend for a moment the literal, the material and tangible, and enter into a dimension heretofore not discernible. Then we touch the realm of angels and saints and what we connect with there – ah, that is more real than the very ground we walk on.
Marjorie George is editor of ReflectionsOnline and Reflections magazine. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, Sept 14 – Spend two hours on the grounds of the Bishop Jones Center with some guided meditations. See the calendar.
Take a walk using the Cathedral Park Meditation Walk. Go to the page for more info.
Sunday, Sept 22, Attend the opening of “Seasons” at Cathedral House Gallery on Sunday, Sept 22, 2 to 4 pm. Go to the page for more info.
Participate in a variety of activities during Contemplative Arts Month at Viva Bookstore. See the calendar.