THE PRAYERS OF STREAMS AND STONES
Two similar visions of the relationship of the natural and spiritual worlds from opposite points of view. Rae Beth is British; a self described wild wood mystic within the Wiccan tradition. John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me, was a friend of Thomas Merton and was chose to write his biography. Unfortunately he was only able to work complete the material about Merton’s hermitage years before his death.
“….One who speaks for the tree roots and stone. Who speaks with the tree root’ and stone’ voices One who speaks as the grass and rivers. Who speaks as field and woods and hills and valleys and salt marshes and waves and tides. Yet who speaks as what is close to home. With the mouse’s voice or the seagull’s or the fox’s or the badger’s. One who speaks in cadences that go beyond the darkness and beyond stars, encompassing what is immeasurable. One whose entire being vibrates to the spirits’ words in nature, like a reed at dawn in a pool where trout swim.”
Rae Beth in The Hedge Witch’s Way
“The very nature of your solitude involves you in union with the prayers of the wind in the trees, the movement of the stars, the feeding of the birds in the fields, the building of the anthills. You witness the creator and attend to him in all his creation.”
John Howard Griffin biographer of Thomas Merton’s hermitage years. He spent time in the hermitage used by Thomas Merton at the abbey of Gethsemane and kept a journal during that time.
Rae Beth writes of one of her familiars, an old cunning man who lived in Britain over a thousand years ago. He spoke to her of prayers. He said that we must know all the prayers of the world around us; of the birds, beasts or fish. I can understand the idea that a sparrow or a fox might pray; but the prayers of streams or stones?
What does water dream of and pray for? Does the drop of water in a tiny brook remember when is was part of a mighty ocean? Does it remember being a snowflake, a glacier, or a tiny drop of rain? Does it remember being another tiny rivulet? Flowing from rivulet, to stream, to mighty river and finally to the sea. Does it remember being caught up by the warmth of the sun only to become a new drop of rain. Does it remember the long fall from cloud to earth, the sinking into the soil, the slow drift into tree roots, the release from leaves into the air and back to clouds to fall again.
What does a stone remember? Does it remember when its atoms were part of the primal lava flows? Does it remember further back when the atoms were formed in the death throes of a super nova? Do the atoms remember their lives in a cliff face being ground down by relentless breakers? Does it remember the endless pressure as the sandstone was thrust again into daylight or carried down into the heart of the earth to return again as a lava flow?
Imagining the dreams of a bird, badger or fish is difficult enough for a human. Normally we see water, grass or stone as inanimate, unaware. To imagine their prayers; that is a mystery.