#24: Bowing to the earth.

***This is the twenty-fourth of a series of posts based on a book I’m reading for a class called Connections in Religious and Ecological Education entitled Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. The chapter is “The Zaytuna Ruku Tree,” by Zaid Shakir.

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. Gen 9:8-10 (repeated 9:10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17)

ruku-tree

All Rolling Pine trees eventually tip over, their heavy tops pulling them down toward the earth until they uproot themselves and die.  They assume a posture of prayer, and bowing low to the ground, finally seek it so much that they disappear into it.  Genesis 9 repeats, over and over again, the promise that God made after the Great Deluge, the destruction of the world: “I am establishing my covenant with you…” But, we usually stop listening, if not reading, there.  If we continue to hear the passage, God’s covenant is with all living creatures.  Every one.  Each.  No matter how small, discovered or undiscovered by human beings, predatory or preyed-upon.  The Ruku tree, the tree that assumes the Muslim posture of prayer throughout its life cycle, reminds me that God’s own Creation sometimes honors God more fully than we humans ever manage to do.  My back is not bent by prayer.  I will, likely, never commit myself so fully to looking toward, to seeking God, that my devotion will cause not only my own suffering but my own death.  I will likely sit more comfortably, rest more easily, seek even less justice, forget to remember to be merciful.  We humans tend to have sharp bursts of energy with devotion but not stick it out for the long-term.  I remember that first jolt of spiritual energy I had when I first connected to God, first had a personal experience of the holy…  Did it fade, or have I been leaning toward it, inexorably and sometimes invisibly?  Am I willing to lean so heavily, bow so low toward the sacred I encounter I finally find myself prostrate on the ground?  Can I, too, be a living sign of the covenant God made with Creation, as the Ruku tree is?

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