Ecstacies in Nature as Our Experiences of the Divine

In upcoming Daily Meditations we will be discussing for a while our experiences of the Divine. 

“Toddler with Puppy,” by Ricardo Esquivel, Pexels

Early in my writings I wrote about ecstasies as our experience of the Divine.  Julian of Norwich speaks of Oneing.  Meister Eckhart speaks of Breakthrough: “In Breakthrough I learn that God and I are one.”  Mystics testify to our experiences of oneing, ecstasy or breakthrough as experiences of God.

In listing some ecstasies that practically all of us share in common and might find recognizable, we see that they are integral to our relation to creation and nature so I call them natural ecstasies or creation ecstasies.

The first of the natural ecstasies we can all recognize from our experience is nature itself.  Says poet Bill Everson: “Most people experience God in nature or experience God not at all.”

“Sitting in the Grass” by Nicholas Githiri, Pexels

How often, how easily, we can fall into ecstasy while sitting by the sea learning to vibrate with it; or walking barefoot on an earthen field with sunshine on our backs; or finding a lone spot with the pine trees at the peak of a  mountain; or catching the fragrance of lilac bushes in our neighbor’s lawn at springtime; or gazing up at  lightning-bug-like stars flickering in a black summer night sky; or listening to the rain; or the forest.  One can go on and on detailing experiences of nature that are ecstatic ones. 

Ecstasy or “standing outside of ourselves” is so real that we truly come to believe what is the fact: that we are the sea; we are a part of the stars; we are of the earth. 

A tenuous dance with the river: the historic mill town of Ellicott City, MD, dedicates a new town clock one year after a flood wiped out Main Street. By Forsaken Fotos.

Today’s cosmology has instructed us that we are literally made of the stuff of the stars, the sea, the earth—we share in common with the entire cosmos and all in it atoms and molecules and a common 13.8 billion year history in arriving where we are.

I recall listening once to some young men who enjoyed hunting and fishing.  When I pushed them to articulate more fully what it was they loved about these sports, they explained that it was not the actual gaming of the prey so much as the communion with nature. “Getting up before dawn, stalking in fields, where only you and early morning dew and the animals exist”–in short, hunting and fishing become occasions for nature ecstasy for many in our culture.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Whee! We, Wee All the Way Home: A Guide to a Sensual, Prophetic Spirituality, pp. 45f
Banner Image: “Man Looking Up” by Lucas Piero, Pexels

Queries for Contemplation

When and where do you experience ecstasy? 

Do you give yourself regularly the time and space to be with those experiences in a deep and receptive way?  How does that change you?

Can you recognize a God experience in your experiences in nature?  What difference does that make in your life and prayer life?

Recommended Reading

One of Matthew Fox’s earliest books, this title explores the importance of ecstasy in the spiritual life. Fox considers the distinction between “natural” ecstasies (including nature, sex, friendship, music, art) and “tactical” ecstasies (like meditation, fasting, chanting); he names the spiritual journey as taking us from ecstasy (Whee!) to a community consciousness (We), to our battling forces that prefer control to pleasure shared or justice (wee).

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7 thoughts on “Ecstacies in Nature as Our Experiences of the Divine”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew for reminding us that ecstasy is everywhere if we stop to respond in awe. After returning from Erfurt, I have begun taking my morning coffee and small square of dark chocolate as not just a great way to begin the day, but as a kind of communion—that these elements too are the body and blood of the Cosmic Christ. Reading your meditation this morning reminded me of a scene at the end of my play, “Amici.” Paolo, the waiter, challenges Sam, a frequent customer, about her priorities.

    “Maybe you are afraid of becoming too full of life! Don’t be afraid of life, Signorina. The one who put us on this plane is not a god of scarcity. He gives to us abundance! A thin woman can nurse a baby as well as a voluptuous one, but God does not stop with what is sufficient! In Italy, we do not serve our pasta with a pat of butter and a dash of parmigiano. We do not serve our breads in little cakes or our wines in petite little bottles. Look outside on a clear night in the mountains. Is the sky sprinkled with a few dozen stars or is it dashed with a multitude of burning torches like so much mica in an Italian grotto! Were animals put on Earth simply to serve our needs–horses to pull our plows and fishes to fill our bellies? Or did God place some here simply to delight our fancies–lustful peacocks and plodding armadillos, awkward hatchet fish and curious meercats? Eat. Eat the desserts life places on your plate. I think you have been counting your cholesterol too long. Mangia!”

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Michele,
      What a delicious monologue you have composed, so full of the spirit of Creation Spirituality! Its invitation to pleasure in the abundance of life should be heard by many. We hope your play is mounted often.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

    1. Gail Ransom

      Thank you, Anne Marie. Creation surrounds us with so much beauty and joy….May your soul have a feast of this super food every moment!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Martha,
      I am glad you have been led to these Daily Meditations. I believe you will find many new ways to deepen your connection with spirit as you continue to read and contemplate with us.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

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