Faith in Nature

At a writer’s conference yesterday, a new friend and I drove by the local sangha and she asked if I was Buddhist. I found myself not quite sure of what label to assign–I treasure many Buddhist tenets but grew up in, and have enjoyed, more traditional American church environs.

I thought of Emily Dickinson, and how much l’d enjoy staying home from church or sangha with her (that is, assuming she’d permit the company). Her take always resonates with me, more than most hymns or chants:

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

The center of The Path by Chet Raymo is his 1-mile walking commute to his professorial post in North Easton, Massachusetts, a mere 2 hours from where Emily made her home. He, too, writes about the holiness found in nature:…”Why should we care about angels when the season’s first blackbirds spread their red-shouldered wings? Why should we seek treasures in Heaven when year after year the fiddlehead ferns unfurl their silver croziers along the brook?” 

For those of us with stronger ties to church, the hymn This is My Father’s World–inspired by a walk in Lockport, New York, brings together worship and nature:

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.