Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Nature's Hymn

The Romantics reinscribed the Enlightenment's reason-centric world with streaks of irrationality, emotionality and synesthesia. Self-expression and personal experience transformed the Kantian Sapere Aude into Blake's council: "Bathe in the waters of life." So too did Nature undergo metamorphosis, re-inheriting unexpected delight, bursting animation and divine exaltation. No longer materialistic, soulless and mechanic, the natural universe was understood in terms of ebullience and dynamism.

Traces of such super-in-the-natural expression surface in Universalist E. A. Bacon Lathrop's poetic confession:

Life, life! ‘t is singing in the rills,
And piping in the meadows,
‘Tis bursting from the gray old trees
That cast their ghostly shadows;
The bluebirds and the robins now
Awaken sweet reflection;
All things are typical this morn
Of life and resurrection:
I cannot tune my heart to woe
In such a world of glory
When every year repeats anew
The gospel’s gracious story.

It is powerful, I believe, to take seriously the divine presence in the living, both human and non-human. Sufi traditions hear in the wind blowing through trees the name of Allah. Similarly, in the Sikh cosmology, practitioners attune themselves to the Cosmic Vibratory Sound, which births and sustains all creation. On Pannaa 1265, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib reads:

ਜੋ ਬੋਲਤ ਹੈ ਮ੍ਰਿਗ ਮੀਨ ਪੰਖੇਰੂ ਸੁ ਬਿਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਜਾਪਤ ਹੈ ਨਹੀ ਹੋਰ ॥
Whatever the deer, the fish and the birds sing, they chant to the Lord.

When was the last time that you listened to Nature's life-giving chant?

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