I found a corn stalk growing in the midst of my day lilies! Where did that come from? How did that get planted there? Could a bird have dropped it during its travels? Perhaps a squirrel buried it. I will never know for sure.
But one thing I do know – someone other than me planted it. When I think of otherness, I’m reminded of the Other as the Ultimate Creator of the universe. God, as Other, can be experienced through nature.
There’s a creation story in Genesis that describes God making us from the dust of the earth, and then breathing into us the breath of God’s life. It’s a marvelous graphic insight which points out that we human creatures are, indeed, dust, so that “to dust we shall return,” and that this human soil is inhabited by the very breath or essence of God. We, you and I, come from God’s love; we live in the life of God’s love; and we are always moving toward God’s love.
That single corn stalk growing among day lilies reminds me that God is the ground of our infinite potential. Bethany Hamilton (born February 8, 1990) is an American professional surfer who survived a 2003 shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off and who ultimately returned to professional surfing. She wrote about her family and faith experience in her autobiography, Soul Surfer (2004). Faith is opening, accepting and responding to God’s presence building a relationship with you which yields strength and peaceful happiness.
The potential for human wholeness – or, in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transcendence, blessedness – is present in every human being. That single corn stalk reminds me that God brings good stuff out of bad stuff. God can grow new lives out of dead things – like the corn stalk growing from a dead corn kernel buried among rocks, weeds and dried up dirt. It reminds me of Jesus who died on the cross for us, and God raised up Christ who now lives among us such that we are never separate from Christ in God.
That single corn stalk growing among day lilies and the cross of Jesus remind me that along with my family and home, I have with me the love of Christ Jesus. With that, I am never alone. God’s love planted in me calls me to help others as my brother and sister because we are one large family – God’s family – united together through the Spirit of Christ in God.
God can be experienced not only through religious nature but also through art, human relationships, service to others, and religious practices. Regular spiritual practices include reflecting on biblical Scripture, attending worship services, and daily prayer to name a few. Disciplined practice is essential to the spiritual life; yet spiritual attainment is not the result of one’s own efforts, but the result of the experience of oneness with God.
One way to experience your unity with God is through the practices of contemplative prayer. I teach and guide contemplative prayer sessions on every second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 12:30 p.m. in First Christian Church of Hoopeston, Illinois. These sessions are free to the public. If you are unable to make these sessions, please call for an appointment.
Rev. Tom Cici is the pastor at First Christian Church of Hoopeston (502 E. Main St.). Please go to www.fcchoopeston.org for inspirational sermons and much more.