Evening Prayer of the Woods

Posted by on Nov 16, 2016 in land, neighborhood, wholeness | No Comments
Evening Prayer of the Woods

If the year were compressed into a day, it would be evening, with its lengthening shadows and descending chill. The trees of Grant Park are girding themselves for winter; they have let go of most of their leaves, and the musky odor of decay rises up from the ground as the beeches and maples and oaks raise bare branches to the sky:

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

bare trees in late afternoon sun

It is the evening prayer of the woods, and as I walk in silence, breathing in the autumnal incense, I listen with inward ears, trying to catch the rhythms and meanings of the litany.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

acorns and leaves on ground

We thank you, Creator, for the fruitfulness of the year, and offer you our gifts for the nourishment of all.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

Grant Park, trees, insects, lady bug

We thank you for all the beings who live in these woods or visit us, and the wonderful diversity they offer: all the creatures that fly or crawl or swim or walk, including the two-legged visitors and their companions. May they all find life here, and bring it wherever they go. We pray as well for those of us rooted to the earth, all the trees and plants, all the grasses and mosses and fungi and lichens and mushrooms–often not seen for the forest, yet vital members of it.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

young beech tree in late autumn

We pray for our little ones, that they may be kept healthy and safe, and grow strong; that they may put deep roots into this sacred earth; that they may learn to bend but not break, to show their true colors in due season, and to know when it is time to let go and to do so with dignity.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

Maple in late afternoon sun, autumn, November

We pray for our elders, especially those who seem to stand alone, that they never despair, that they know they are bathed in light and that they remain a source of inspiration and nourishment for many.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

dead beech tree on ground in autumn

We pray for our ancestors, who, though fallen, are not forgotten, and indeed remain an integral part of who we are. Even in death, they provide life for our community.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

heart carved in tree

We pray for all of our suffering sisters and brothers, and for all those who suffer everywhere, that their wounds be drained of all poison, and cleaned of all pestilence and disease, and that they not cover their wounds with a such a hard coating that they forget who they are. We pray also for those who wound others, that they may discover true love and not settle for a self-centered version that hurts others. We pray that all may come to know the real heart of our community, and find healing.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

Autumn path, Grant Park, November

Finally, dear Creator, as the evening of autumn settles into the night of winter, keep us safe, keep us healthy, and in our dormancy may we still feel the touch of your sun on the tips of our branches, and remember the light that will return again in the morning of spring.

Like burning incense, oh Lord, let our prayer rise up to you…. 

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