Friday, August 14, 2015

"Nature Religion" at my Door

"Forgive me that I cannot kneel
And worship in this pew,
For I have knelt in western dawns,
When the stars were large and few"

~ "God's Creed", Ella Higginson, 1861-1940


It's a rare morning when the front page of a city's newspaper shares the heartfelt words of Ella Higginson, a poet laureate of Washington state.  I'm happy to discover Ella - she and I are clearly kindred spirits on the path in many ways.

The excerpt from her poem God's Creed appeared in the following story:  Do you see God in a sunset?  "Nature religion" may be the signature spirituality of the Pacific Northwest.  

Apparently another study (this one by Baylor University) has awarded Portland the distinction of being the most unchurched city in the entire United States - and Oregon the most unchurched state.  

This particular study took a rather unique approach: 

"Researchers compared the richness of natural amenities in every U.S. county to religious adherents per 1,000 people.  They found that areas with higher rates of amenities have lower rates of religious adherence."

I'm not at all surprised.  Like Ella, I walk the passages of "Nature's church" most days of the week, and even when I must remain at home, my church sends missionaries to my door.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Transistor Radio Summer #10: Born Free

"Live free, and beauty surrounds you, the world still astounds you, each time you look at a star." 
~ Born Free by Don Black

The other day I read a post on Facebook inviting us all to spend 5 minutes per day on a dream, suggesting that if a dream isn't worth spending 5 minutes per day, then it must not be all that important to us.  It's one of those posts we might tend to see one moment, forget the next.  Yet every once in a while, the simplest of instructions actually takes hold. 

You see, like many people, I have all sorts of projects in progress.  Some of these projects in progress have been in progress for years.  It might be months between visits to some of these projects.  And I asked myself:  Can I spend 5 minutes?

It wasn't long before I realized 5 minutes isn't necessarily enough, though in some cases, it is.  5+ minutes works even better.  I have made a few compromises too - not every project gets my attention every day, but I'm finding the 5+ minute rule invites me to at least visit some of them every few days. It's a very simple thing to do.

There are some things that aren't exactly dreams, but they bring us Joy.  Playing the piano is like this to me.  I am a highly imperfect piano player and was a reluctant student through most of my childhood, with a very strict, unpleasant teacher at the start.  I can save my childhood piano stories for another day.  Imperfect or not, even as an adult, playing the piano freely brings me Joy.  And it's easy to use the 5+ minute rule with the piano.

And so I just did.

And I discovered a song in a very old stack of music many of us have heard (far too many times in elevators in the 70's) and ignored or forgotten.  It gave me astonishing Joy to rather imperfectly play this on the piano just now, while dinner is cooking. 

I'd like you to listen to this song very closely. 

Listen to what it has to say. 

Don't tune it out.

Listen . . .

It can set you free.  In less than 5 minutes...