Friday, 31 October 2008

Birth and Cycles of Change

Deciding a few thoughts to write about: Birth from the world and continuation of life; Work ethics and balance; Creative play; Is it just escapism?; Difference between appreciating nature and a deeper ecospiritual living; ...

I am catching up with some reading at the moment and keep dipping into three or more books and so getting quite an amalgamation of thoughts.

I came across the concept that we are birthed from the world and not in to the world. I am just a continuation of the creative process that is unfolding on the earth. I didn't appear from outer space and land one day in a tiny patch of Worcestershire. I was the product of the combination of the flesh and cells of my parents formed by the metabolism of the food they ate and the air they breathed. Their food was grown in the earth and so perpetuated the long cycle of creation and decay that characterises the development of life over millions of years. My window on the world is so infinitesimally small compared to the big picture, and perhaps that is one of the failings of our modern society. We live in a world that divorces us from the reality of the big picture of creation and nature. Are we really just like fleas on a dog's back? We can see the big picture because we have the ability to stand back and view the world but the perspective we chose may not be from an ecological view.

Although I feel encouraged to live in the present and not worry about future, I think it must be important to somehow recognise the past, the customs, the people, the culture and the natural world that has been part of my creation to this point. From what I gather, that is what Halloween is traditionally all about - celebration for the end of the summer and its provision for the harvest; a time for realising that the darkness of winter is ahead of us and that the closeness of death is ever present; and a time for remembering the people who have brought us to this place so far from our past. I realise there may be some darker aspects to it in some cases, but as that is not something I relate to or wish to discuss I will move on to something else.

Nature is always birthing even in the depths of the cold of winter. As the winters here have got warmer over the years this is becoming very noticeable. Buds forming on trees, spring bulbs pushing up though the grass - even a hibernating mouse is alive and slowly breathing and growing. Even a pile of dead leaves changes through the growth of fungi, micro-organisms and bacteria. Cells pass from life to death to assimilation to life in a never ending cycle.

(Now here's a challenge in connectivity) Jesus... as well a being human, and so part of this great natural creative cycle, had the skill to transcend the normal prespectives of his culture and see a bigger picture of the past, present and future. His ability to be a cultural and social philosopher was probably grounded in a deep connection to the earth, though I have to assume this as biblical language isn't always very ecocentric! He must have been very much like the creative thinkers today who want to see changes to the economic, consumer driven and unsustainable lifestyles we lead. When I read Resurgence magazine I am sure many of the writers there are, in what may be a heretical thought, Jesuses - people who are visionary, explore alternatives to the norms of society and seek changes to better the world around them.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Developing the Ecological Self

Perhaps just writing the title to a blog before I have even thought of its contents will encourage me to write in a more thoughtful and inspiring way. Let's see what will happen here...!

I was with a friend a few weeks ago who commented on an apparent duality in my modes of thinking and actions. On the one hand there is the 'me' that wants to go out and do things, be practical, be active, be funny, be extrovert and do as much as possible. On the other, is the more relaxed, calm, thoughtful, quiet and thoughtful 'me' that is keen to find balance and contentment in every day life. Now that I have started to be more philosophical about life I have noticed these two potential extremes and wonder how they can co-exist within me. I may be exaggerating the points, but I feel this duality causes a certain amount of conflict within what I do.

An ecological self must be one that recognises the existence of one's self within a greater picture of interactions with the external environment. The most immediate contact I have with the world outside of my body is with the air that I breath, and then it might be the food I eat, the clothes I wear and the ground upon which I walk. In more tradditional, ancient or less consumer driven cultures the ability to satisfy these basic needs of interactions may be the boundary between life and death. How often in my life have I been in a state of starvation or cold that would be life-threatening? For many of us in our Western society we have forgotten what it means to live life close to the boundaries of our ecological self - where the food, clothes, air and the un-acknowledged natural environment around us comes close enough to us to be seen as both a Saviour and yet the beckoning finger of suffering.

I suppose the frustration I am feeling, as mentioned in my previous blog, is the coming together of my ecological self with the techno-consumerist post-modern self. One seeks balance, peace and belonging; the other seeks action, stimulation from the media, the ability to take hold of all that life has to offer and the need to belong to the world of business for financial security and work.

My ecological self seems to be creating a big pull on me - it is the foundation for my personal development more than anything else (I'm not a great green eco-activist for this cause or that, or deeply engrossed in green politics or business). I am forming the theory but know I often fail in practice, such when I get angry with my daughter or when I struggle with work and stress. But I want to develop something that works for me - it is bl***y hard work, but I believe worth it.

I am 43, and will be 44 in a few months time. It is easy to feel at times that I have lived a sheltered life and have passed by much that could have been challenging and character forming. I often feel I want to start over again, but I think that in an ecological context I have to recognise the place I am in, to be thankful for it, to see my past and future within who I am, but knowing that I can draw upon resources from outside to help me on my journey.

I'm picking up my book on ecopsychology again and continuing to read it. All that I am talking about is really this sort of thing and I wish I could be more verbally eloquent about it. It is a huge subject and one I eagerly devour. There are many people who think and dream of new ways in which we could live more harmoniously with the planet and it doesn't imply we should all go back to living in round houses and pulling out bad teeth with pliers. As the news is now full of companies going out of business, China toy factories closing all over the place and a recession lasting several years, perhaps this is a wake up call for humanity to try and get its house in order. I don't think it will learn though - our ecological selves are being repressed all the time - but you never know, I'm sure it isn't all doom and gloom.

I was just thinking about a man I saw in Hitchin the other day evangelising to passers by with the word 'sin' thrown all over the place; and comparing that to my talking to a girl at work today about my tree experience as mentioned in my previous blog. We were both sharing something profound about our lives that had deep significant meaning. I pray for more inspiring moments like that.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Healing Trees; Wheelbarrows and Frustration

Eeee, what a week!

Yesterday's 'Butterfly Effect' blog was inspired by the first part of a bike ride that I went on. Whilst on my way back and in a fairly relaxed mode my thoughts seemed to be overtaken by a very negative and worry based set of thoughts that followed me for a good couple of miles. Although I was happy to be out on the bike I found it hard to disengage my mind from this deep time of anxiety. It annoyed me because it was upsetting my day and, although I am not going to mention what it was about, I knew that all I was trying to do was sort something out and deal with how I react to situations I find myself in.

As neared home I passed by a close group of four old oak trees and I could almost say I felt them call to me to stop and visit them. I did so and was immediately overwhelmed by a deep sense of peace and beauty that instantly lifted the deep anxiety I was facing. I only stayed with them a few minutes as people then kept walking by and there is only so much hanging around trees one can do without beginning to feel rather self-conscious! But I left feeling totally different.

* * *

Today, whilst out in the car, I passed a large pile of fly-tipping on a local country lane. I spotted amongst the builder's rubbish an old wheelbarrow. I stopped and retrieved the old, rusty item and took it home. Although it had a puncture and was a little worse for wear, I actually had a decent wheelbarrow for the odd few occasions when one would be useful around our garden. I also picked up a large good quality plastic bucket.

* * *

I am not going to dwell on it, but, eee by gum, I don't half feel a bit frustrated, emotional and fed up at times. This summer and autumn has been quite full of it (I blame it on the Resurgence weekend away - I laugh!). This weekend hasn't been good. Perhaps I have just been tired, very busy at work and not feeling I am being creative, networky or social out of work. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself.

Want to go back to Dartmoor again. Haven't been there since last Christmas.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The Butterfly Effect

This was the view from a place of meditation this morning. I liked the horizantals in the landscape and I sat and looked out over the fields on a cool, windy but sunny morning. The ground was cool and damp but refreshing to touch and I had found a place sheltered from the wind. The field jn front of me was a feeding ground for a flock of pigeons and I sat and watched them flying around the autumn landscape. It made me wonder about the Butterfly Effect (A web definition: "A butterfly flaps its wings... a hurricane strikes miles away. According to Chaos Theory, a seemingly irrelevant action can precipitate, and contribute to, a major event. The right set of factors comes together and a major event takes place.). Under this theory I wondered how significant the flap of a pigeon's wings could be. With all the movements of their wings in the field in front of me, could they inadvertently be changing the shape of the world as we know it? It was a windy day and I then noticed how the wind was moving the grasses and leaves around me. How does this fit in? Can each movement of each blade of grass be significant in ways that we just can't fathom?

"Be the change you want to be" is a quote I have been thinking about this week. To what extent is it possible for me to change my life and who I am? I know I could bring about dramatic changes to my life, but somehow I don't "do" the dramatic or the revolutionary. Perhaps I should. I am better at doing the low key and subtle things that bring about change over time. And yet somehow that frustrates me, but am I giving fear a home?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Keeping Balanced

The past week has been a testing time in several ways and I am not sure quite how I have coped. Sometimes I felt completely overwhelmed and I need to learn how to deal with those situations. It has been a week of dealing with annoying and disrespectful young kids from up the road; going to a parents evening and making what I hope was a good attempt to build rapport with our neighbours; dealing with the demands of work in a slightly stressful and very busy environment; trying to work out how I design cards that instantly meet my manager's approval; desperately trying to be creative and wanting to do my best, but often feeling I fail; getting depressed at the onset of dark drives to work and dark tea times; being excited and inspired by my NLP course and teacher; wanting to go out for a walk in the wind and rain but not having the time to; meeting a group of people (Resurgence/Gaia Group) with whom I shared some common interests and touching a wider world of ideas; being given a book on shamanism (hmmm, not sure it is my thing, seems a bit too much like an area that I'm very wary of); and going for a walk at Old Warden in Bedfordshire and sensing the sights and smells and textures of autumn.

On looking back at the above there are so many bits and pieces floating around at the moment and as always I want to see them as a whole contribution to my journey and not just isolated happenings. Isn't that a bit like the chaos theory or whatever it is where a butterfly flapping in one part of the world can affect something global elsewhere?

When I met up with some fellow Resurgence readers we shared some thoughts and ideas on our lives, philosophies and ideas. Here are some things that I jotted down in my notebook:

  • Be the change you want to be

  • Be the best that you can be (love?)

  • Keep good company; Do inspirational work; Unconditional service (Satsang, Indian philosophy)

  • A wish to see people and things that are free from pain

  • What makes you smile, what gladdens your heart?

  • Work/life/home should inseparable from a holistic/spiritual viewpoint

  • Apply spiritual work to a problem

  • Common theme: Ideas and translating them into action; a daily outworking of our spirituality

Oh yes, a couple of weeks ago I found myself on a Sunday afternoon in Primark and Macdonalds in Luton. As I have had enough of being negative this week I will decline from writing anything about this experience!

As I welcome this new day
May the wind and the rain refresh my spirit.
May I see a positive in all I do
and help me not to get bogged down
by those thoughts that darken my mind.
May I be a light
that honours the great Creative Spirit.
May I draw from that Spirit
the strength and inspiration
to be who I am -
without fear
without uncertainty
with strength
with peace
and with love.

Bless J and E.

Thank you for this day.

Friday, 17 October 2008


The Autumn is well and truly here and the trees are seriously amidst the process of change. They are changing colour, retreating from the season of production and fruitfulness and preparing to survive the expected frost and winds of winter.

The news is full of change: Credit Crunch, recession, shares rinsing and falling all over the place, petrol prices dropping after the summer highs and many companies going out of business. It all reflects just how much we base our lives around money, the desire to have more, to earn more, to use the earth's resources as if they are unlimited, to seek self-satisfaction at the expense of others. There are voices that call for new visions for how we live on this planet, but I wonder if they will really be heard or actioned in a way that will have real effects and substantially change the way we do things.

I often feel I have to sacrifice my desire for a more ecologically based lifestyle in order to have a job, pay the mortgage and support my dear family. Perhaps I fear making a radical change. I would like to, but I don't think I can do it by myself... not sure...

Quite a few of my friends at my old workplace are facing redundancy. My wife has kept her job, which I am thankful for, but I do feel for the others most of whom I have known for many years. Change happens, no-one is immune from it. Perhaps birth and death are the most drammatic changes our bodies undergo. Many of the changes we usually face in life, unless they are accident or illness, are just psychological - we just have to adapt our minds to new ways of thinking about our lives, what we do and how we do it.

I wonder how Nature copes with change, or indeed individual plants and animals? Can I learn anything from it? At an individual level. perhaps we are just the same. Put anything in an environment in which it faces stress and it either survives or dies. I have killed several treasured garden plants over the years just by moving them around too much or putting them in unsuitable places. Animals and humans are the same. Put me in a desert without the means to cope with a new environment and I wouldn't survive very long. But when changes are subtle, or within our means to cope, then we can survive and move on, even fourishing better than before. On a global level, I wonder if Nature will have better chances to survive and adapt than humans. But, of course, you could easily argue that we are all part of the same system anyway, so it isn't possible to talk about any separation. We are Nature, just as the tree that stands outside the window is. Humans do seem to have undergone a creation that is unique - I wonder if that creation has been too quick... it puts huge strains on our lives - we all want jobs, a car, a house, access to health servcices, the latest HD television, the ability to get compensation and have insurance for anything. Are we beginning to get scared of loosing ourselves and our existence? If you treat Nature as a separate entity from humans, then I am confident it will always exist for as long as the planet can sustain it. As a whole I believe it has a greater capacity for self-preservation and continuity. It has been around millions of years longer than we have. I am sure humans will always continue to exist on this planet alongside the ant and the oak tree, but they must live sustainably and I think that, as a whole global society, we haven't even really grasped what that means yet.

What I suppose we fear most about change is the ability to support ourselves and our families, to live the lives we want to live and to have what we have grown to expect from our modern world.

On my NLP course last week we were talking about timeline therapy and how if we think about the past we visualise it behind us, and if we think about the future we visualise it as being in front of us. Ever since, I've been practicing this and either I "want" to view this differently or I do actually see it differently. For me, the past is either place related and is in whatever direction an event occured (i.e it happened in Herefordshire, St Albans etc which I imagine to be where it is geographically from where I am standing); or it is "within" me - sort of carried as a memory in my body/mind. I think the future is similar. I am my future, it is within me, I create it. My future will be me in whatever situation I find myself in and I will imagine it either in my current position or within a geographical location I know or can visualise in any direction.

So, change. We all face it. We cope with it in different ways. We can never escape it. How we deal with in depends on what resources we have mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We have to dig deep sometimes to draw upon an inner strength that will carry us through. The supermarket won't help us, the DVD player won't help us, our investments may not help us. We need to have resources that we can draw on from within ourselves.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Guerrilla Litter Picking and Rain

I have had enough of going out on my bike and finding piles of litter or rubbish by the roadside and not doing anything about it. So last Saturday I went out with the bike and two bin bags to an unsightly collection of beer cans and rubbish possibly left by some nightime revellers alongside a local bridleway. I had passed it several times over the past few weeks and decided I'd seen it enough times. I cleared up one bin bag of empty beer cans for recycling, another bag of general rubbish and filled one of my paniers with glass bottles. I felt much better. I can't pick up everything I pass on the roadsides, but perhaps I should do a bit each time I go out.

The next day it rained. So I went out for a walk and got very wet. I love sitting in woods in the rain. I found a place to 'be' and just sat, looking and listening to all around me. I saw squirrels darting from tree trunk to tree trunk and a group of four pheasants that tentatively scratched their way past my field of view. I did see a deer or two, but they ran off as soon as they saw me. Just walking, silently and slowly through the damp autumnal wood was worth getting wet for.

Finding Our Way Again

The following book was lent to me by a friend and these are a mixture of notes and thoughts I made on it. It was probably more aimed at church leaders and those who have roles within a church, but I found a few things that caught my attention. I admit I did rather skim read it at numerous sittings so I am am sure I may have missed key points, but this isn't a review as such.

Finding Our Way Again
By Brian Mclaren. Thomas Nelson, 2008. 978-0-8499-2106-3

Is your religion a way of life or a system of belief? When people reject Christianity it may be just because of the way it is presented, structured and lead. Conventional organised religion doesn't have all the answers and perhaps we need a fusion of the sacred and the secular. Religion and secularism both fail to provide answers.

There are three options that we can take in forming a framework for our beliefs: militarist scientific secularism, pushy religious fundamentalism and mushy amorphous spirituality. We need something more, a fourth option.

How does daily life affect you? How do you deal with what happens to you and how does it change you? That reminds me of something we were talking about on my NLP course recently: how we think and how we react to situations influences our behaviour and feelings. What character do you want to have and what are you developing? Can spiritual practices help to bridge that gap? They can be earthy, they are about humanity and aliveness. They could be called life pratices or humane practices because they help us to practice being alive, and humanely so. They develop not just character but aliveness, alertness, wakefulness and humanity.

Spiritual practices are about Spirit and being open to God, tuning into the Holy, hearing the Word and the gentle pressure of presence. All creation unfolded from the Divine source and spiritual practices are ways of becoming awake and staying awake to God. They can help reshape us for a more intentional, alternative and perceptive way of living. What will your character be like in 10 years? How alive do you feel at the present moment?

People of faith may interrupt their lives with an intentional experience of discomfort, dislocation and intensity to seek new and unknown places. They may interrupt their family, work church life and any other familiar things to go on a pilgrimage. Pilgrimages need a home to set out from and a destination to reach. See Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4). Also important are fasting (not just from food), sacred meals, prayer, tithing/giving, sabbath/rest and liturgical prayer. I know that my journey feels much like a pilgrimage, though I have no clear idea where the ultimate destination is - other than being in a new place after having gone through a process of travel, learning, exploration and challenge. I feel that any trip I make to Herefordshire or to Dartmoor is one. Even going out for walk or bike ride locally can be a mini pilgrimage. Walking or cycling out into the countryside is always about going on a journey and experiencing something new.

Jesus was not a Christian but a Jew who proclaimed a new way, a new management and set of values, a new order and a new array of priorities and commitments, a new vision of peace and how to achieve it. He embodied this new way "I am the path". He was a leader, mentor, teacher, artist and rabbi. Jesus never makes Christians or converts, he forms disciples who then follow his way. He pointed the way for a movement, not a religion or an institution. I wonder whether emphasis is often placed more on Jesus as a forgiving person and Saviour than on what he himself may have actually stood for. I'm happier with that than the concept of just giving my life up to Jesus, focussing entirely on him and not actually taking responsibility for forming a balanced approach to my spiritual life. If this isn't clear, perhaps what I am saying is as follows: I have a path that I would like people to follow of they choose, but in no way do I want to become an iconic figurehead that is worshipped and revered. If Jesus did think that way, then I'd be happy to be put right if I should ever meet him, but it doesn't sit with my perception of how it should be.

Heaven and Hell are popularly understood as destinations beyond history and outside of this earth. If we focus on them in the wrong way then it can lead us to ignore this earth and this life. Do you want to escape this earth to be with God in Heaven or do you want to join God in healing this earth form personal and social evil? If we make Heaven after this life our prime destination for our spiritual way, are we then running away form the problems of the world? What if God's goal or destination for creation is a healed and healthy earth, with plant, animal and human systems that share in that health? Rather than seeing God's earth as a lost cause. What if God cared both for this life and the after life - they are both "life", both the Kingdom of God, both two facets of the same gift? Why does this seem like a "so obvious and why haven't I heard this before" type of thing? Though I probably have somewhere.

"Practice makes possible some things that wold otherwise have been impossible. [...] The gift never stops being a gift, but the gift 'happens' to those who are practiced in ways it doesn't happen to those who aren't." Contemplative practices then, are means by which we become prepared for grace to surprise us:
  • Solitude, Sabbath, Silence

  • Spiritual reading and study

  • Spiritual direction/friendship

  • Practicing God's presence

  • Fixed hour prayer

  • Prayer journalling

  • Contemplative prayer

  • Simplicity and slowness

  • Fasting and self-denial

  • Feasting and celebration

  • Holy days and seasons

  • Submission

  • Gratitude

  • Meditation and memorisation

There is quite a good passage in the book about community and the role the church plays in this: "Going to church when you don't feel like it becomes the most important kind of going to church there is". It is about commitment to the purpose - we should learn and live a way of life that motivates us to turn up. Withdrawal from community practices can become a habit and also an unhelpful practice. People of faith then become grim and apathetic, so the author says, but then goes on to say that people who drop out of churches can seem happier, healthier and closer to God than before. I understand the important role that churches play in the creation and development of thriving Christian communities but perhaps I just have to work through some things...

The ecology of our planet is in trouble (Hmm, so is our economic system!) but isn't that outer disharmony and imbalance related to the disharmony and imbalance in our inner ecology? We should be thinking of practices that form and transform both our outer and inner ecologies of souls and world.

How can churches meet the needs of people who want to move out of their "box"? I you stop people form learning, sharing and loving then isn't that working against God and the plotline of the universe? Are you willing to change, to let go and allow change - to find your way again? God's Spirit works across denominations, ideologies etc in different ways at different times - I imagine it may be like waves with peaks and troughs of inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Where do you draw the line as to what is Christian and what isn't? I don't think it is as obvious as I have been led to believe.

The book offers a model for practicing a new way of approaching that above through various "Via...". I wasn't grabbed by them in a deep way, whereas the "Via..." ways that Matthew Fox illuminates I found far more meaningful (Via positiva, Via negativa, Via creativa and Via transformativa).

Friday, 3 October 2008

Celtic Prayer

The Path of Celtic Prayer
by Calvin Miller, IVP 978-0-8308-3504-1, 2007

I have just read this book which I borrowed from a friend. I made quite a few notes, but realised much of what was doing was just copying directly from the book. So, in order to respect copyright, I have re-written my notes in more of my own words with my own thoughts added. Some text is retained as written in the book, in quote marks. It may be a bit disjointed as I only picked out the parts that I feel spoke to me. It was very good book exploring Celtic Christianity and the author was, I felt, discovering it from a fairly charismatic evangelical viewpoint which at times felt a bit claustrophobic. But the underlying sense of discovering a more ancient and creation based spirituality was very strong and I liked the style of writing and the sense of discovery and journey within nature. The book was an easy read and so didn't always present a greater depth of exploration where I would have liked. If it had been my copy I would have been writing things and underlining bits all over the place.

The Celts (Greek keltos for stranger or alien) are a people of somewhat unknown origin, possibly from middle Europe, who found their way to our land somewhere between 1500 and 500 BC. The Romans drove most of them to the outer western edges of the British Isles where remnants of their ancient languages can still be found. Various missionaries such as Patrick and Columba then bought the gospel to them and so Christianisation of the Celts began.

Like most people the Celts prayed in ways that were appropriate to their lives and the context of their society, environment and culture. Their gods were drawn from the natural world which was to be expected. They were outdoor people, a concept probably that was meaningless in their time, as that is what everyone was. Nature was too big for them to grasp and so they naturally sought help from the gods from the land and sea and sought to manipulate them through prayers and incantations. When Christianity was bought to this pagan landscape so the Christian God became the King of Nature. The Celts may have confused their Christian God with nature but for most Christians, God is always greater than and separate from His creation. Nature can therefore be allowed to inform spirituality but you couldn't say God IS nature. I have a sneaking feeling that there is an alternative view. God is present in nature, it is His creation, in it He is constantly creating and evolving and thus there need be no separation.

At the heart of Celtic devotion there is a force called neart or nirt which is the Divine spiritual and creative energy behind all living things and it comes from the Trinity. Prayer is a way of tapping into this energy and the triune God. In praying to the Trinity we are praying to the full Godhead that creates and pervades the natural world and thus there is no separation of God, Son and Holy Spirit. As the Celts only knew the natural world they worshipped and prayed to a God who surrounded them just as the natural world did. Very Psalm like. God was not an icon fixed in a temple, but could be found amongst the rocks and bushes. "YHWH was the breath of the God of storms, whose wind (ruach) created, threatened and gave life."

Christians often pray to one part of the Trinity. God deals with all the big stuff; Jesus the personal; and the Holy Spirit just makes them feel good. The Trinity is expressed in the knotworks of neverending patterns of sovereignty and foreverness. In praying to the Trinity we can truly commune with it - we are taking God in His completeness and therefore we are complete. God has given us the earth's resources to meet our needs, but the whole Trinity is invloved in both our creation and sustenance.

The Celts were poetic people using ornate phrases of praise direct from the heart that weren't spontaneous but carefully formed. In "Megachurch 'entertainment evangelism' Jesus can be trivialised as a congenial host who smiles alot". The spoken word was believed to be more powerful that words frozen to a page. "They saw the Bible not just as God's word that should be applied, but as literature born on the high ledges between this world and the next".

The author warns about taking the Bible and fitting it to meet our own needs and something about needing to be careful about confusing the important biblical and doctrinal distinctions of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No further expansion on this was given and, although I think I know exactly what he meant, I am not sure I agree with his frame of thinking.

Praying scriptures out of doors is to be encouraged as then we are surrounded by the grandeur of God as exhibited and enhanced by nature. Try these passages:
Outdoors - last chapter of Job, Psalm 19, 23, 46, 90 : Mountains - Isaiah 40 : Harvest John 4 : Christmas - nativity : Epiphany - Matthew 28, Luke 1 : Seashore : Jonah, Galilean passages beginning at Matthew 4 : Sheep - John 10 : Evening - Passion narratives : Mid-morning - Sermon on the Mount : End of day - Romans 8, Philippians 2

The word Lorica is often used for 'breastplate' prayers: prayers that ask for protection as they journeyed to an unknown future. The cross is a bridge between this world where we live temporarily and the higher world where God reigns. We can never rest in a place of faith. In it we travel and learn of heaven and hell, life and death, sin and the gospel and the triune God. Each adventure we have becomes a metaphor, a new way to teach us about nature, the power of the Trinity and the gospel of Christ. When we live on the edge then pilgrimages are born.

I wonder if nature worship encourages a less self centered desire to pray and worship?

To the Celts, the forces or evil and death were very real with sickness, pestilence and enemies part of Satan's weapons. Lorica/breastplate prayers were their protection. Do people who look out for the work of the evil one actually attract it to themselves...? I personally have yet to be convinced fully of the presence of Satan (or even Jesus if I dare say it!), even after 20 years of being in an evangelical Christian environment, though I will acknowledge a 'dark side'. But that is a discussion for elsewhere.

The Celts took confession seriously because they took God seriously. If you believe in God then you see yourself as both sinful and needy and confession gives us the ability to escape all false opinions of ourselves. It is about a desperate longing for God, agreeing with God that our sin is sin, and serving God in the world. Yes, I agree to a point, but I could see things from a different perspective if persuaded...

Creation and redemption go hand in hand and at the end of the age He will recreate heaven and earth. Well, again, it depends how you see things...

Nature Prayer
This was the juiciest part of the book and I have saved this bit until last.
Nature encompasses a far greater world than can be observed and it is the place where mere mortals become God's servant of praise. With the Spirit flowing naturally though the entirity of life it must therefore permeate the worship of church. With God sustaining creation, in order to know the Creator you must seek him though creation. The Eucharist can be an excellent example of the concentrate of God's presence in all things. When in nature we automatically want to praise and if we allow our environment to deteriorate we have not only disobeyed God but we will have no place in which to praise and worship. "We can easily paste nature over supernature so that it becomes mere scenary. We so separate nature and faith that it can seem that would be essentially unchanged if creation were to cease to exist. Not so with the Celts (or the Bible)." Everywhere the Celts looked they saw creative love and the almighty nature of the holy Trinity. "...we must break through the cold, hard walls of our institutionalized worship and reach for the soft, warm reality of God that is found outdoors. It is impossible to imprison God within the walls of a church and yet claim that Christianity brings light, growth and life. We need to open the windows of our souls to admit God's creative energy..."

"Nature must not forget the Christ that died to redeem it from its great destroyer - Satan". To me, I feel that it is us humans who are ultimately nature's great destroyer. Perhaps... is there a 'satan' within us all that creates the dark side of humanity. Perhaps we are our own evil. We create it from with our own psychology. We are nature's satan. Not sure, don't know.....

The Celts had an holistic worldview, a world where faith and reason wound seamlessly together as the natural and supernatural worlds are intwined in their artwork.