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I have had several experiences in my life when I knew something that I should not have been able to know. One afternoon I was napping when I awoke suddenly, knowing our son was in some kind of trouble. Then the phone rang and the caller confirmed what I already knew. We are connected to one another and all the things around us in God’s wondrous world in ways that boggle the mind and inspire the soul.

Clayton Daughenbaugh, a field organizer with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, told me about an unexplainable knowing that came to him while hiking one day:

“My wife and I were day hiking at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in west Texas,” Daughenbaugh said. “We had completed a climb to the top of Guadalupe Peak and were on the way down. I was walking a hundred yards or so ahead of her and was coming into a small ponderosa grove in what is otherwise a pretty wide-open Chihuahuan desert environment. I noticed the shade and the birds singing right away. As I walked further into it, a very strange feeling came over me. It was as though I was a permanent part of that place. But there was also a feeling of imminence — as though I was on the edge or verge of an infinite place and time… I was at once a small and seemingly insignificant part of the universe yet somehow also an essential part of it all. There was a presence of being that seemed to uphold and permeate all that was around me. This lasted maybe ten minutes. I found it to be a very strange experience. Yet it didn’t seem all together unfamiliar, as though I’d experienced it before.”

Eddie Ensley, author of many inspirational books about the mystery of God’s presence, tells how his Cherokee grandfather taught him to look for this “presence of being” in nature.

“I have a vivid memory of my grandfather standing motionless on the top of the bluff, letting his eyes soak in all that came to him,” Ensley said. “Once I asked him what he saw when he looked. I still hear his answer, rhythmic with Cherokee and Appalachian intonations.

‘I see the dirt, the trees, the water, the skies.’

‘Why?’ I asked him. ‘Why do you look so long?’

He paused, took his pipe out of his mouth, swallowed, then slowly said, ‘If you look a long time, it will all shimmer, and you will see the glory.’”

Every living creature and every tree and bush in creation, is surrounded by energy fields. I see the shimmer and behold the glory often in the fields and forests as I walk the hills every morning. The energy is thick, almost palpable, especially in the spring and summer. It is invigorating, empowering; I hear it singing in the ripples as the creek water rolls over the rocks under the bridge near our house, in the croaking of the frogs, and the shrill cry of the eagle diving for its prey.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God.”

John Sumwalt is a retired pastor and the author of “Shining Moments: Visions of the Holy in Ordinary Lives.” He can be reached at johnsumwalt@gmail.com.

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