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How will you find a healthy and meaningful connection with the natural world?

Phase 5: My Relationship with Creation
Workbook Exercise: My Creation Collage

Watch: How will you find a healthy and meaningful connection with the natural world?
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Transcript of Video:

One of the things that I have discovered gardening here at Emery House is if they are always planting the same thing in the same place that slowly but surely the soil is depleted and, interestingly enough, once the soil is depleted, the only thing that will thrive in it are the weeds. So in order to keep the weeds out you have to constantly be renewing the soil. So as you think of your life this week, you might want to think about creating your own collage. Think of where is the good soil in your life, where is the stony soil, and where is the soil full of thistles. And as you do that, look at your life and see where is the balance (where is the good soil?), and where are you out of balance (where is the soil full of thorns or the soil full of stones?). So you might want to think what is your relationship with money, is that “in balance”? Is that producing abundantly? Is that producing abundant fruits or is that controlling you? Where is your relationship with consumerism? Where is your relationship with food? Is that in balance or out of balance? And if you want to restore balance to those, what exactly do you need to put into it. What exactly do you need to think about, pray about, ponder about your relationship with money, food, consumerism and begin to restore balance there. Just as the gardener is constantly trying to keep the balance or maintain the balance or restore balance to the good soil so that, like the gardener, the soil of your life can product abundantly.

– Br. James Koester

16 thoughts on “How will you find a healthy and meaningful connection with the natural world?

  1. There is a good balance in my life I think. I’ve a healthy relationship with money although I do think it is important in a sense that it gives me a degree of independence and freedom. This lent I have refrained from buying clothes, what I consider luxury food items and making do with what I have in my cupboard and fridge in order to ‘weed’ out want and unnecessary spending on my family too.I have found that I can do without many cups of tea, platefuls of meat, cake everyday and found joy in nature, contemplation and quiet hobbies and thank God for these gifts.

  2. one area that I neglect to care for is the body maintenance that I need to keep this older body healthy. I enjoy using my body for walking, hiking, bike riding, swimming and the occasional work of moving furniture, etc. but I want to develop the discipline to take time for the stretching, strengthening work that is needed to keep my body in as good of working order as possible. I liken this to cleaning house – always seems like there’s something better to do than cleaning, but what a joy it is when the house is clean, so is my body a joy when I’ve worked the creaks out and have muscles that can lift and move when I need them to. I commit to setting aside 10 minutes a day as a start to stretching and doing some simple muscle strengthening. Thanks be to God for this earthly body that takes me where I want to go.

  3. I desire to have more knowledge of where my food comes from. Where it is grown and is that local. What goes in the ground and is that organic or chemical-based. Who the farmer is and if sustainability farming is practiced. Of the meat I eat, how were those animals raised and ultimately slaughtered. This is outward as well as inward. What goes into my body and mind are what shapes me, controls me, directs me, etc.

  4. This morning’s video put a different twist on things. In previous prompts whenever I heard “natural world” I thought nature and creation. Today it seems that the natural world is life as God intended, my life. My happiness, health, connection to others, connection to God, connection to creation, and ultimately my fruit bearing.
    If I look what is out of balance, I have to say my health, my limited friendship, and the torture I put myself through knowing whether my professional life is good or bad. I also don’t feel as connected to nature as I have previously in my life.
    So how will I find balance with life? Only with God’s help for certain. Health and rehabilitating my infirmaties, fostering deeper friendships, connecting with nature, not wasting my time idly or on things that I believe need to no good at home and at work.

  5. I have a very good relationship with food/consumerism at the moment. My physical health and well being are in check and aligned with what I consider to be healthy soil.
    The thistles are always financial matters- that’s what is out of balance & never as steady as I want it to be. I go through periods where it feels stable then life will cause things to swing to the other side of the financial pendulum. I wish I could get a grip on it but it always seems to be fluctuating. I know I’m not alone in this feeling but I wish I had more control over it…

  6. this question brought to mind a Mark Strand poem (see below) …a friend said ‘ its’ about balance’. Trying to select a right relationship with weight (food), money, people, entertainment, church and now, most importantly, with God is tough stuff. For me , if I do not feel connected with God, doing the hard work of turning the earth to put in better soill, learning what is a weed and what is not and then timely removal of said weeds etc. is just a chore unless I connect each day to the Word with prayer following. This has rooted me and is providing the connection and filter I need to be able to viewi my garden/our world properly starting as a redeemed child of God, striving for the balance, moving to ‘keep things whole.’

    In a field
    I am the absence
    of field.
    This is
    always the case.
    Wherever I am
    I am what is missing.

    When I walk
    I part the air
    and always
    the air moves in
    to fill the spaces
    where my body’s been.

    We all have reasons
    for moving.
    I move to keep things whole.

  7. I need more exercise in my life. My balance with food, consumerism and money are pretty good. I love my food, but it isn’t an obsession. I am as generous as I can be with my money, giving to those in need of it. I would say that I am not ruled by consumerism. I am happy with my life the way it is. I don’t need more. I have everything that I need. But, to keep the temple of my body healthy, as well as eating good food, and rest, I need to exercise; go for walks in the country and in the parks in my village. I feel very blessed to have a good balance in most ways in my life. Thanks be to God.

  8. Where I feel most abundantly connected to the natural world is as I steward the living things and land in our own domain: home, church, community. Most of the environmentally responsible things I do seem to focus me on the care of Gods’ creation. But I see in this meditation that my blindness to social and environmental justice may be an out of balance place tin my life that might be more productively tended. I see that I may be careless in my consumption of unnatural materials, and tending that better could encourage a more meaningful connection.

  9. I am reading a very interesting, thought-provoking book, RADICAL by Platt which has given me a soul-searching experience in my relationships with the world in which we live, especially about the needs of the world and our response to them, or lack of response to them. I can see that the soil in my life is certainly not as productive as I might have thought. I have had an awakening as I have read with some self-examination. May God grant to me the courage and grace to response in the best way possible. Thanks for your good message.

  10. How will I find a healthy and meaningful connection with the natural world?

    I’ve thought about this question for awhile now, trying to figure out exactly how this question relates to the video associated with it. In my opinion, the natural world is that which was given us by God. Everything else was created by humans. I’ll call that the human world.

    I feel that I already have a very meaningful connection with the natural world. It soothes me, relaxes me, rejuvenates me, inspires me.

    Of course I am also connected with the human world. But I don’t totally understand all the complexities of my connection.

    The natural world is, of course, complex, but it seems to make sense. Everything is working together, in the grand scheme of things, to enable a this system to survive and continue growing, sustainably. I feel a part of this, and it is a part of me.

    The human world, while born of the natural world, is much more confusing. It not only does not make sense any more, but it seems to be doing everything that it can to bring itself down. Sustainability does not seem to matter any more, it is every man for himself. We are working on “unnatural” principals, and in chaos. I don’t feel a part of this, nor it a part of me.

    So where does this leave me? An outcast from humanity? Perhaps this is the root of Brother James’s question.

    There is nothing I can do for the world as a whole, but we each can try to influence our own little corner of our own personal world. I can be positive, optimistic, gentle, and loving. I can be attentive of myself, my health, and my needs. I can consider the needs of others less fortunate than myself. Exude the joy of life. And be unswayable and unstoppable in my convictions.

    These are not simple tasks, but I can … I MUST do them.

  11. This I found to be a little difficult to determine. I believe that I have a very healthy and meaningful connection with the natural world. I don’t eat just to eat only when I am hungry. I buy things, clothes, shoes and stuff only when I need them not just because they are there. I am content with what I have and don’t spend time worrying about things I don’t have. However, there are areas in my life that I am praying for balance in. My health for example, I am praying for good health, cure for all the aches and pain that I am suffering from and at the same time asking God to give me a clean and contrite heart. I am striving to achieve balance between work and leisure. I need to create a sort of Sabbath for my life.

  12. …1st of all, remember the parable about the sower (Christ) and stony, thistlely ground etc is about the SOWER not the ground! …Good seed is thrown on all of your described bad soils…

    …Secondly, money, consumerism, & food issues are kept in balance by me by going to the theoretical…participating in this Lenten forum offered by your community…by my book discussion group offered by people who THINK…when my body, mind, & soul are crying out to God, I go to the theoretical to turn my mind to something else.

  13. Thru walking and running outside. Going and enjoying to be outside more. Also letting my fears go. I need to be more aware of creation around me.

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