Nature and Spirit

Here are some quotes that speak of Nature: our love of it, our deep roots in it, our utter inseparability from it. (Photo is from an autumn Smoky Mountain stream-sit )


A human being is part of the whole… the universe. We experience thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. The delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
—Albert Einstein

Almighty One,
in the woods
I am blessed.
Happy everyone
in the woods.
Every tree speaks
through thee, O God!
What glory
in the woodland!
—Ludwig van Beethoven

As I kneel to put the seeds in
careful as stitching, I am in love.
You are the bed we all sleep on.
You are the food we eat,
the food we ate,
the food we will become.
We are walking trees
rooted in you.
—Marge Piercy

Earth! Invisible!
What, if not transformation,
is your urgent command?
Earth, my love, I will.
Oh, believe it needs
not one more of your springtimes
to win me over.
One, just one,
is already too much for my blood.
Namelessly I’ve been yours,
from the very beginning…
Surplus of existence
is welling up in my heart.
—Rainer Maria Rilke

Glance at the sun.
See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings.
Now think.
—Hildegard von Bingen

I have come to terms with the future.
From this day onward I will walk
easy on the earth. Plant trees.
Kill no living things. Live in harmony
with all creatures. I will restore the earth
where I am. Use no more of its resources
than I need. And listen, listen to
what it is telling me.
—M.J. Slim Hooey

I pledge allegiance to this earth,
and all the peoples on it; and to the
ocean which surrounds us all; all creatures,
all beings, the sky above—
with understanding and compassion for all.
—Adrienne Skyborne

How wonderful, O Lord, are the works of your hands!
The heavens declare Your glory,
the arch of sky displays Your handiwork.
In Your love You have given us the power
to behold the beauty of Your world
robed in all its splendor.
The sun and the stars, the valleys and hills,
the rivers and lakes all disclose Your presence.
The roaring breakers of the sea tell of Your awesome might,
the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
bespeak Your wondrous will.
In Your goodness You have made us able to hear
the music of the world. The voices of loved ones
Reveal to us that You are in our midst.
A divine voice sings through all creation.
—Jewish Prayer

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree;, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
—Theodore Roethke

Lord of the springtime, Father of flower, field and fruit, smile on us in these earnest days when the work is heavy and the toil wearisome; lift up our hearts, O God, to the things worthwhile—sunshine and night, the dripping rain, the song of the birds, books and music, and the voices of our friends. Lift up our hearts to these this night and grant us Thy peace. Amen.
—W. E. B. Dubois

“Our Mother Earth is now teaching us a critical evolutionary lesson, a lesson in universal responsibility.
On it depends the survival of millions of species—even our own.”
—The Dalai Lama

Nature is the ‘Great Mysterious,’ the ‘religion before religion,’ the profound intuitive apprehension of the true nature of existence attained by sages of all epochs, everywhere on Earth. The whole universe is sacred, man is the whole universe, and the religious ceremony is life itself, the common acts of every day.
—Peter Matthiessen

Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far-off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.

My world turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?
—Hermann Hesse

We join with the Earth
and with each other,
With our ancestors and
all beings of the future,
to bring new life to the land,
to recreate the human community,
to provide justice and peace,
to remember our children,
to remember who we are. …
We join together
as many and diverse expressions
of one loving Mystery, for the healing of the Earth
and the renewal of all Life.
—U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program

The beauty of the trees,
the softness of the air,
the fragrance of the grass
speaks to me.

The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.

The faintness of the stars,
the freshness of the morning,
the dewdrop on the flower,
speaks to me.

The strength of the fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.

And my heart soars.
—Chief Dan George


1.  Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, Earth Prayers from Around the World: 365 Prayers, Poems, and Invocations for Honoring the Earth (San Francisco, Harper San Francisco, 1991)

2.  Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, Honoring the Earth: A Journal of New Earth Prayers (Harper San Francisco, 1993)

3.  Anne Rowthorn, ed., Earth and All the Stars (Novato, CA, New World Library, 2000)

4.  Holly Hughes, Meditations on the Earth: A Celebration of Nature, in Quotations, Poems, and Essays (Philadelphia, Running Press, 1994)

5.  M. J. Ryan, ed. A Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles (Berkeley, CA, Conari Press, 1997)


The photo is a canopy of trees reflected in the stream – autumn in the Great Smoky Mountains.


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