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Spiritual Reflections on Unity with Nature

Spiritual Reflections on Unity with Nature

prepared by
Baltimore Yearly Meeting Ad Hoc Committee on Unity With Nature
Baltimore Yearly Meeting, Eighth Month, 8-13, 1989

Our concern for the earth is a spiritual one. We discern the need to examine our faith and practice in the context of this concern. We invite and celebrate the Light that each Meeting and each Friend has to shed on this.

Based on Minute from Unity with Nature conference. Pacific Yearly Meeting, 1988

Aware of growing threats to many forms of life on earth, many Friends are discerning a call to participate in healing the earth, and are discovering or deepening a sense of spiritual relationship with nature and with the earth.

Friends who have been called to respond to a concern for our spiritual relationship with nature have come from many different paths, and have been prompted by many different experiences.

We may have become profoundly aware of the scope and the scale of the destruction of life on earth, of the poisoning of the air and the water, of the decimation of rain forests and of habitats of threatened species, and of the unprecedented erosion of productive agricultural land. We may have sensed an urgent spiritual responsibility to address what we have perceived as an unprecedented and relentless threat to all life on earth.

We may have been aware that Jesus and other spiritual leaders frequently sought the wilderness, the desert, and other natural places to find communion with God.

While alone in nature, we too may have experienced a state of peace, a depth of silence and an opening to the Light that spoke of a spiritual sustenance from nature or from the earth, as if God were speaking to us through nature.

We may have discovered passages in the Bible that spoke to us of God's concern for the natural world, perhaps the parable of the lilies of the field, or perhaps finding in Genesis an expression of all life on earth, and in the universe, as being an expression of a Divine creative energy.

We may have been led to question how we had understood what it means that we should "have dominion over the earth", and wondered whether dominion does not mean stewardship and nurturing, rather than domination.

We may have been guided by teachings from other spiritual traditions -- for example, Native American, Taoist and Buddhist -- that have spoken clearly of a reverent response to the earth and to all life. We may have come to honor and appreciate a spirituality that sees nurturing and caring as key elements in a healing relationship with the earth.

We may have read of, or experienced, direct communication from the realm of nature -- from plants or trees, from animals, rivers or rocks -- perhaps speaking of the necessity of a transformation in our relationship with the natural world, and of a need for that relationship to be based in the Spirit.

With the emergence of the science of ecology, we may have become more aware and respectful of the intricate web of life in the world around us, of our interrelatedness, and interdependence with all life. We may have experienced a sense of awe and wonderment at the complexity, diversity, harmony and beauty of creation.

We may have been gardeners, finding through an organic or biodynamic approach to growing we experienced at first hand the presence of a microcosm of the web of life, and found how our own actions could nurture and support that life, and in the process nurture our selves too.

We may have sensed that a spiritual malaise that we see, especially in our large cities, is partly rooted in a lack of direct relationship with nature, a lack of connection with the earth, and with the natural rhythms of the seasons, a lack of awareness of the sky and the stars.

From a concern with holistic approaches to healing, or from the holistic nature of ecological inquiry, we may have sensed that to follow a path towards wholeness involves our relationship with the whole of nature and with the earth, and that we are being led to integrate our spiritual and earthly paths.

Through expression of our calling towards nature, we may have experienced a great sense of joy, a celebration of the wholeness of life, and a deep sense of empowerment from the opportunity of becoming co-creators and participating with nature in a profound transformation of our own lives and of all life on earth.

Mindful of the Quaker heritage of answering that of God in all people, we may have heard a calling to answer that of God in all creation.

"The earth we share is limited in its capacity to support life and to provide resources for our survival. The environment that has provided sustenance for generations must be protected for generations to come. We have an obligation, therefore, to be responsible stewards of the earth, to restore the natural habitat where it has been damaged, and to maintain its vitality. Friends historic testimonies on simplicity have long stressed that the quality of life does not depend upon immodest consumption. The urgency of the threat to the environment cannot be overstated."

Friends Committee on National Legislation, Legislative Policy Statement, 1987

The Ad Hoc Committee on Unity with Nature invites Baltimore Yearly Meeting to share in an exploration of our spiritual relationship with nature, and to participate with us in the search to bring Light on our concerns for the earth.

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