Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nature and Spirituality

Diversity within the scope of creation has piqued the interest of every human community since the beginning of time. A diverse and wonder-full ecology is what makes poets muse in the playful arrangement of words, seeking to reflect upon the place and time where creatures live and die. Fascinated by complexity, human religions stand in awe of the multiplicity of life; at the same time they often try to make sense of the universal condition of impermanence by over-simplifying and dominating nature--doing more harm than good.

However, it is diversity which makes natural systems thrive. I argue the fact that human spirituality thrives within this diversity--both in wonderment of how the Infinite One chooses to operate in existence and how human communities flourish when a mosaic of spiritual expressions make up the whole.

Conversely, when monoculture defines a natural system, the system does everything it can to return it to a diverse state. Many people can relate with this. Most have seen a bare farm field in the beginning of its growing season. The annual weeds soon rise up, armed with their peculiar root system, fighting to bring weedy diversity to the open field. The natural system will not let one plant reign supreme, much to the embitterment of farmers.

I am a Lutheran minister living on the Great Plains in the State of North Dakota. I identify myself within a particular brand of Christianity in a place that is big, wide and open. But I do not insist that everyone understand life and faith just the way I do. To do so would be the equivalent of breaking the sod on a prairie defined by its grassy variance. Variance makes the prairie beautiful and healthy. Variance makes spirituality beautiful and healthy. On top of that, just as non-native invading plants on a prairie hamper its potential and ruin its health, so, too does spirituality that conquers and bashes, insisting on its own way.

The Nature Conservancy
has a vision and a goal: to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. TNC manages North Dakota's own Cross Ranch and other properties with this vision in mind. They do this down to the littlest prairie forb that shows up biennially, struggling to make its presence known in a sea of grass.

We can take a hint from Mother Nature. Spirit and Life teach us that a diverse understanding and practice encourage growth and seeing life from many facets of a jewel. Looking to the Infinite working in the finite, we place ourselves in the wide array of the diversity of life. Seeing this diversity, we are vitalized and emboldened in our uniqueness to celebrate and wonder in the mystery of life.


Carol Maurer said...

Your last sentence sums it up so beautifully. Wonderful thoughts that I know create who you are...

Anonymous said...

Interesting post.

I think that Divercity can also lead to problems.

Just look at who we have for a president now!

Anonymous said...

gerardii would be lower case

good stuff

The Junkie said...

It's a pleasure to read your posts no matter how much time passes between them. Your words are always thought provoking and your range of topics guarantees something different each time.

The nature conservancy has a part of our local prairie preserve ( With the Tallgrass Preserve also nearby I feel I can really glimpse the past our forefathers in the middle of the country were confronted with.

But you never much wood?

Brad said...

I'm in agreement with your wife. Your last paragraph is beautiful; it really sums up life - both the spiritual side and the "secular" side. I am learning more and more that diversity in everything is essential. I never truly realized it until recently.

Well done, my friend.