An old friend of many years and I recently started walking on weekends up in the foothills south of our town. It’s a break from our busy schedules, a chance to catch up with each other and to relax in the natural splendor of northwestern Wyoming’s rugged Rocky Mountains.
In the foothills you can see nearly the whole valley below, from the gently rounded Big Horn Mountains on the east to the raw rugged peaks of the Absaroka Mountains on the west. Between the two ranges is a vast, almost empty expanse, populated mostly by wild creatures and just a few humans.
The Big Horns are resplendent in their sparkling coat of nearly year-round snow. The rugged Absarokas radiate that special power and glory you find only in the high places.
The mountains often glow with a golden-amber light I’ve rarely seen in other places. In summer the fragrant silvery sage on the foothill slopes shares its heady aroma with all creatures great and small. In winter the valley light at sunset is otherworldly in the golden glow of the sun’s final rays.
The whole place glows with light and life. When I’m here I know all is well. It’s truly a magical place. A place where you feel close to God, where you feel at one with yourself and all that is. I can barely remember the last time I was in a church. But I can remember I never felt close to God in any church. It’s not like that here.
As my friend and I were walking and talking, she turned to me and asked “What’s pantheism?” It was a term she’d seen in a book she was reading that week.
I had to think back many years to my Jesuit college philosophy courses. I didn’t have a clear recollection, but I told her I thought it was the belief God exists in all that is, that God is all that is.
When I got home I researched pantheism. I found this definition from Dictionary.com:
“. . . any religious belief or philosophical doctrine that identifies God with the universe.”
I also found the website of an organization called The World Pantheist Movement. I was fascinated by their philosophy. I didn’t agree with all of it. For example, they don’t accept the reality of spirit guides like Spirit. But I loved their view that all spiritual beliefs, or the lack of them, are valid. And their belief God, whoever he or she is, exists in nature, in the power of the universe.
The site quoted two great leaders and teachers whose names are virtually household words, Mikhail Gorbachev and Henry David Thoreau.
“I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals.”
“We are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us. We can never have enough of nature.”
And third, Spirit.
We often say God is All That Is. That is literally true — everything that exists has a divine nature. You humans, other living beings, the natural world around you — these are all God.
We realize you as a human race have needed to anthropomorphize God — to give him or her a personality, to see God as a separate entity. Separate from you and all else that exists.
While we understand that perceived need, we also say it has led to many problems among humans. This narrow view of God has led to the forming of religions, creeds, cults. Most of it divides you. It does not unite you as humans and as fellow residents with the natural world of your planet.
The time has come for you to unite. Much of the global chaos you’re witnessing is rising up and confronting you because you need to heal. You need to acknowledge this truly is a new age — a new age of new energy where the old patterns and paradigms no longer work.
Many humans are choosing to leave rather than face the challenges. They’re overwhelmed by it all, and feel they can no longer go on as before.
Despite appearances, this global chaos is a good thing. It’s helping you remember who you are. It’s helping you remember you are God.
Many of you feel alienated from God and from each other, even from yourselves. Your cities are teeming with unrest, violence, intense chaotic energy.
You’re all aware of everything we’ve just said. But what can you do about it?
Friends, one of the most powerfully effective things you can do is to get out into nature more often. While that may be difficult for you living in cities, there are always resources available. New York City, for example, has its beautiful Central Park.
Get out into the natural world as often as you can. Marvel at the animals, the birds, the insects. All these creatures are totally aligned with their world, and with God. They know they are God. Rejoice in the beauty of the trees and plants, the hills and mountains, the lakes and oceans. They too know they are God.
Being out among the inhabitants of your natural world will bring you peace and harmony, love and joy, even healing — for the feelings of connection you have out there are glimpses of who you truly are.
The natural world knows it is God. It can help you remember you are too.
When you immerse yourselves in the joy of simply be-ing, as the animals do, you will then solve all your personal problems and all the world’s problems.
Nature is a powerful healing force in your lives. Immerse yourselves in it. Then you will know once again the joy of be-ing God.