Wild Lectionary: Nature as Divine Dwelling Place

20180716_124708Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 16 (21) B

Psalm 84:1-3

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!

 My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

By Celina Medrano-Miller

As I write this, I sit on the earth, of the traditional and ancestral territory of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish and Musqueam Nations.

I was born on this unceded territory, under the name for the new city which was built, called Vancouver.

My parents both migrated here separately…

My mother from Edmonton, from parents who eventually ended up there after a childhood divorced from Germany as Jews in the 1940s.

My father moved here from Quebec, but before that was born and raised in Lima, Peru.  Our blood comes from the indigenous Quechua peoples in the Andes, specifically the Chanka.

And so I am settled on First Nations land, with roots stretching from both a long winding Jewish and indigenous Peruvian history and ancestry.

I am a product of this history as well as current living story. My interpretation, my response, from here then follows.

Dwelling, courts, and altars.
We could imagine walls and a roof, blocking
Light, air, wind, rain,

But where does the sparrow find a home; the swallow a nest
But in a tree.

A place of worship may be built from trees
But are the altars not the trees themselves?
Your dwelling place, our dwelling place,
These courts, my soul does long for.

The world as we know it now is nothing without creation.
Though we can be so far from it, distanced by every vector imaginable,
All that is once came from here, this divine dwelling place.

To me, the word ‘creation’ is the non-secular way of saying nature. In my interpretation, Psalm 84 is an ode to nature: its beauty, strength, and place of spirituality. In our postcolonial, capitalistic world it could be easy to forget where everything really comes from – the wild – but this Psalm gently reminds us.

Celina Medrano-Miller is a student at the University of British Columbia who has spent the summer working with youth on environmental justice issues and is looking forward to a semester in Natural Resource Studies on Haida Gwaii.

Wild Lectionary, a weekly reflection on land, creation and environmental justice themes in the texts of the revised common lectionary, is curated by Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest of Salal + Cedar, Coast Salish Territories.

 

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