Reverence: A Celebration of Life
Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
-Henry David Thoreau
When I feel bored, anxious or disgruntled, I step outside. Nature is my cathedral. The patterns formed by the veins of leaves, the stripes of light that drill through thick forest canopy, the creatures that somehow manage to survive the elements, the smell of rain and the warmth of sun cultivate a sense of reverence. My personal definition of reverence is the combination of mystery, gratitude, love, awe and wonder.
Spiritual disciplines often nurture reverence, but naturalistic and scientific disciplines can, also. In my personal belief system, science and spirituality are two types of literature which tell roughly the same story: one’s a textbook and the other is poetry. Science and spirituality spark reverence in me because the more I learn, the more shocked I am by the scale, complexities and possibilities inherent in our universe.
To me, reverence is the feeling that there’s more. There’s so much more to the story than we generally think about during our waking moments. There’s more to be grateful for. There’s more to love and care about. We are more connected to each other, nature, animals and stars than we usually consider. When I take the time to stop and think about these things, I’m inspired to protect the earth, celebrate life, love the people around me and take care of creatures, great and small.
In Albert Schweitzer’s words, “Ethics is nothing else than reverence for life.”
As revealed in the photos below, reverence is universal. Perhaps it’s the reason we’re not so different when it comes to our hearts.
“Reverence,” a collection of photos:
Ifa practitioner, Iyanifa Mahealani, in awe of nature.
Reverence inspires art.
Tibetan prayer flags are believed to enable the wind to carry prayers. At Hkakabo Razi, in the Himalayan mountains of northern Myanmar.
The director of SPANA, an animal welfare charity, makes it his life’s purpose to nurture work animals.
An Indian villager pays her respects to an elephant hit by a train.
Sufi swirlers like Tanya Evanson dance as an expression of reverence.
An Indian Hindu in the grip of spiritual wonder.
Pakistani Muslims offer special prayers at the grand Faisal Mosque in Islamabad on Lailat al-Qader, also known as the Night of Power, during Ramadan.
Reverence by candlelight in a Christian church. Around the world, candles, incense and statuary are used to help invoke a sense of reverence.
Lighting candles along the stairs up to Swayambhunath, Nepal.
Young woman with incense prays at the Yonghe Temple, China.
Walking a labyrinth is a moving meditation believed to calm the mind, allowing for an attitude of reverence to emerge. At Chartres Cathedral.
People praying in sacred waters. In Bali, Indonesia.
Which photos are your favorites? Please tell me in the comments section below!
“Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light. Above all else, reverence thyself.” – Pythagorus
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