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Excerpted from The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore. Copyright 1996 by Thomas Moore. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"In religious practices around the world, we find spirituality and nature going hand in hand."

Thomas Moore, Re-Enchantment, part 2

In nature, we become sensitive to our mortality and to the immensity of the life that is our matrix, and both of these sensations, mortality and immensity, offer the foundation for a spiritual life.

For all our well-equipped investigations and classifications, nature remains full of mystery: The farther the physicist explores the subatomic world, the more mysterious nature appears; and the more pictures we receive from beyond our solar system, the more it inspires awe and wonder. By confronting us with irreducible mysteries that stretch our daily vision to include infinity, nature opens an inviting and guiding path toward a spiritual life.

As we approach nature as fact finders, analysts, and classifiers, we tend to lose sight of the story we are living, the myth that gives shape to our very investigations. Are we like Prometheus, hoping to steal what we can for humanity from the mysteries of life? In our voracious pursuit of information, are we like the man in the fairy tale who gobbled up his world from a pointless, ravenous hunger? Or are we St. Francis, loving nature as the immediate presence of divinity? Or the Buddha, finding in the simple presentations of nature images of the mystery that is human life?

In religious practices around the world, we find spirituality and nature going hand in hand--among the Irish monks who built their stone monasteries on windy, raw islands and steep promontories inhabited mainly by goats, among the Tibetans who developed a highly sophisticated approach to the spirit in the thin air of their mountaintop monasteries, in the tropical rain forests where nature is revered in exotic ceremony and icon, or on the American plains where earth and sky are honored as divine sources of life.

Many of us who limit spirituality to a book or a church long for something more. Traditional peoples know that nature feeds the spiritual life as nothing else can. What is required is simple proximity, contemplation, ritual, and a spirit of piety.

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