May our hearts be open to places of worship
that reset our bodies and spirits
wherever we may wander.

Stepping gently into the sanctuary of harvested fields
Bare feet sinking as the rich black soil squishes between toes.
Inhaling the scent of harvested corn
Listen to the gulls squeal with delight
at the crunchy remainder left to glean!
Feeling a sense of tranquility washing and cleansing.
my arms reach out and extend a blessing
on the Creator’s land in gratefulness
for countless humans and animals fed
from the fruit of this one parcel of land.

Stepping ever so softly into the chapel of the
gentle evergreens
well-worn moccasins protecting my tender feet
from potential needles poking up from the ground.
Breathing in the fragrant pine scent, touching the rough bark
Sensing the holy swaying in this open-air room while
a sense of tranquility washes over me.
I am brought into the present moment
And content to be in this holy space.

Stepping purposefully into the cathedral of the strong oaks
wavy steppingstones massage bare feet.
Breathing in the scent of autumn leaves
Picking up crisp leaves of orange and gold
A sense of tranquility washes over me.
Raising my head in thanksgiving for the
possibilities of life provided by these tall trees
and breathing deeply of their life-giving strength.

Stepping reverently into the basilica of towering mountains
hiking boots preparing calloused feet for the climb.
Breathing deeply the freshest scent of mountain air
Eyes beholding snow-covered rugged peaks
a sense of tranquility washes over me.
Climbing the trail of these wonders of the earth
I whisper Psalms of Ascent
As the air becomes thinner and the presence of the
Holy and Mysterious One becomes more apparent.

Do you feel some sense of tranquility
after wandering with me?

Years before reading Christine Valters Paintner’s poetry that speaks of the “cathedral of the trees,” I knew it in my heart. There were wheat fields of my youth that took away loneliness and brought me a sense of peace. There was the stand of pines in which the atmosphere was thin between saints past and present. I’m easily spooked and was grateful to only feel the spirits and not see any apparitions! It is a lovely experience to stand under the cathedral of the trees and notice their branches reaching out and up as the walls of the church do, drawing our hearts away from the mundane and embracing us in the heart of God.

Going into the sanctuaries that touch our hearts has been an antidote to these past months going into the election. When feeling a visceral response to the election process or results, we’ve needed to get away and pray for healing of our nation and world. Advertisements on telephone, television, emails, and social media may have caused unhealthy tightness to body and mind. When feeling that rigidity, it is time to step into another space and wait patiently. God’s purposes and kingdom are being fulfilled, although we may not see it as quickly as we’d like.

Now that election day is over, we may still suffer from PEST (post-election stress turmoil). We need to be intentional and allow ourselves the space and time to heal. Even if the mute button is nearly worn out on the TV remote, the repetitive clichés have worn on us. They waste our brain power while trying to sort out facts from lies. Whether you feel like you can’t catch your breath and have trouble getting out of bed or have been dancing in the streets once the results are known, you may need to give yourself space to heal. Creative endeavors like writing of poetry, painting, carpentry, cooking, and sitting in the midst of nature can help. The last week of October, my husband and I resorted to watching educational films like “The Addams Family” that took our attention away from the entropy of the world and caused us to giggle at the silliness.

May we wander into amazing places and receive the compassionate love God sends to us.

Pass it on with kindness and hope!

Grace and Peace,
Rev. Marta Wheeler