These are just some of the things that fill up my days with my toddler daughter. We look at dolphins in books. Play in mud with our friends. And gaze up at the stars in our pyjamas.
My daughter sees nature as a mystery, an adventure and an inspiration. She likes to talk about 'who' is living in the mangrove bushes. She calls the chirping of cicadas 'music'. And she even loves to 'become' an autumn leaf and sway in the breeze. Often, when outside she asks me, 'Did God create this?' Nature seems to awaken her spirituality.
And it got me thinking; how do I see nature? Does it lead me to creativity? Mystery? Does it awaken my spirituality?
Perhaps not a lot. I often plan what's for dinner as I'm picking flowers. I have a habit of remembering my Grade 4 pollination lesson when I see bees buzzing around the backyard. I see the sunshine and I think of skin cancer.
So how can my experiences be more spiritual?
The Third way of Seeing
Thinkers in many religions often talk about different types of seeing. They're all a bit different. Representing the Christian tradition Father Richard Rohr talks about three types of seeing. He illustrates his point like this;
'The first man saw a sunset. He saw the immense physical beauty and enjoyed the event in itself.
A second man saw the sunset. He enjoyed all the beauty that the first man did. Like all lovers of coherent thought, technology, and science, he also enjoyed his power to make sense of the universe and explain what he discovered. He saw with his second eye, which was even better.
The third man saw the sunset, knowing and enjoying all that the first and the second men did. But he is able to progress from seeing to explaining to 'tasting'. Able to remain in awe before an underlying mystery, coherence, and spaciousness. It is being connected with everything. He used his third eye, which is the full goal of all seeing and all knowing. This was the best.' (paraphrased: Mysticism In Religion: Three Ways to View the Sunset)
Do I see the world using the third way of seeing?
Rarely. But I desperately want to. So I've been thinking of ways in which the third way of seeing could impact different areas of my life.
My Parenting, Theology and Body
My parenting. Perhaps it is the third way of seeing that would allow me as a parent to move beyond worry over the future and a fixation on organisation and success; the desire for control and constant over thinking. It will help me to learn to just be with my daughter. And help me to let her also to just be.
My theology. Maybe the third way of seeing will prompt me to know that I do not really know much. Then I can move beyond a theology of rightness and control to one of compassion and humility.
My body. Perhaps the third way of seeing will assist me to move beyond just seeing my body as simply a bunch of muscles contracting. I suspect that the third way of seeing will help me view my body as spiritual. That is, viewing my eating, exercise, sex… as important, as meaningful and as vulnerable.
I like that the third way of seeing moves beyond knowledge to 'being'; with more experiencing and less over thinking. I like how it moves me to awareness of mystery and vulnerability and the transcendence of the Divine. And as I write this I'm beginning to wonder if the third way of seeing is a precursor to Christian worship- and I like that a lot.
Danielle Carney lives on the Gold Coast. She has a degree in Theology and is now studying again. She is married and has a three year old daughter and two sons who live in heaven.
Danielle's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-carney.html