Communion of Life

 
As a follow-up to last week’s post, “Thank You for the Body that Loves Me,” I present another meditation on our earthiness, another in a series of reflections from my earlier books that I hope may lift our spirits in this new year. The series opened with “Peace of Mind” and will continue throughout the season of Epiphany and, who knows, maybe beyond.

The late gifted editor Stephanie Egnotovich at Westminster John Knox Press helped me “birth” a number of books, for which I am grateful. In 1998, she came to me with an idea. Sitting next to someone on an airplane reading a kind of generic book on spirituality, she asked him about his selection. As I wrote in my acknowledgments of what became Communion of Life, “He explained [to her] that he had no religious background and was attempting to discover spirituality.”

“Why don’t you write something like that for spiritual seekers?” she asked me.

Not knowing this was a common plan for New Age books, I chose a mythology that no one would take literally, that everything consists of earth, air, water, fire. And I wrote 12 cycles of meditations on earth, air, water, and fire.

I was so self-conscious of this adventure that I showed them to no one until complete, and then only to Stephanie. She loved them, and took them to marketing at the Press. The marketing department loved them even more, she said, and though later admitting their limitations with this very different market, we proceeded with this experiment.

Stephanie herself paired my meditations with the outstanding art of National Geographic photographers, so I can honestly say without self-pride that Communion of Life: Meditations for the New Millennium became the most visually beautiful book I’ve ever helped create.

Cycle Three: Day 9 Earth

Tangible earth,
You touch yourself through us.
We grasp your hand,
Stroke your fur,
Prune your branches,
Cast your stones,
Bury your seed,
Birth your children.

But it’s not just us,
It’s you in us.
You have developed your sense of touch
Within our bodies—
Communing through us
With air, water, fire,
In pleasure, buoyancy, and passion;
And communing through us with yourself
Delightedly, painfully, compassionately:
A communion of life
Giving rise to soul:
More than the sum of your parts.

Earth—in us, in me,
You have become sensual and sensitive.
Blessed earth!

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