Cosmic Walk Prayer in Response to Pope Francis Global Day of Prayer for Our Common Home

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1 Cosmic Walk Prayer in Response to Pope Francis Global Day of Prayer for Our Common Home This prayer-pilgrimage is designed to be used with Prairiewoods Cosmic Walk, a symbolic journey through the woods representing the Story of the Universe and its emergence through 14 billion years of evolutionary history. Begin at the start of the Cosmic Walk trail behind the Center, and end at the thirteenth station, near the Labyrinth. Reader: We gather outside today, although we are really inside. We are inside this world of wonder, this magnificent cosmos that is our womb and our tomb. On this day, the Pope has asked us to pray for Our Common Home, the beautiful creation that God gives us. So as we enter into this prayer-pilgrimage, we listen for the whisper of God s breath and feel the tenderness of God s caress as we make this journey together in silent reverence, awe and gratitude. First Station: The Great Flaring Forth Here about 14 billion years ago, in a time that was vast and chaotic, the emerging Universe began to shape its energies into intricate patterns and rhythms. Without the shaping of these early patterns, the story we are telling would have ceased billions of years ago. Here is the birth of ourselves and of everyone and everything we love. From this miraculous second, the entire Universe emerged. All that we know comes from this one Source. We pause here, aware of the unity of all life, of our oneness with everything in the Universe. Second Station: The Galaxies Coming to the second station, we have already walked two billion years. It was about 12 billion years ago that the first stars illuminated the enveloping horizon. They flared up and exploded into brilliant supernovas, creating millions of new stars. Scientists now know that there are about a hundred thousand million galaxies in the observable universe. To these early stars we owe all the ingredients of a carbon-based life. We pause here to gaze at the heavens, remembering that we are made of stardust. Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 1

2 Third Station: The Milky Way A few billion years later, our own home galaxy is born, illuminating the skies with millions of stars. Here we stop to consider the beauty of the night sky, the enormous number of stars in this one galaxy and the vast expanses of space and time. We consider the power of the universe to hold all things together. We are grateful for how Spirit has woven creation with the gift of light. We celebrate all the ways in which we receive light, purpose and hope. Fourth Station: Our Sun and Planetary System Our home was created when one special star, which we have learned to call Tiamat, exploded, creating our own sun and planet Earth. In her spectacular death, Tiamat tossed into the night sky new elements that she had forged within herself, elements like calcium, sulphur and phosphorus. She invented carbon and nitrogen and sculpted oxygen astounding powers that would one day sparkle as life. Tiamat was brilliant, creative and passionate. She bequeathed to us her beauty, power and joy. What gifts! Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 2

3 Fifth Station: Earth A disk of gas and dust, including some of the embers of Tiamat, surrounded a newly formed sun. There are particles of iron and rock, water and gas. More materials are swept together through gravitational attraction. Planets are formed. It took four million years for the seething mass of molten iron, rock, steam and gas to form our Earth. 200 million more years were needed for the consolidation of the Earth. Earth is now 600 million years old, the universe is just over 10 thousand million years old. We are nearly three quarters of the way through our cosmic journey. We pause to consider the wisdom and intelligence that are innate at every level of this cosmic story. Everything that is happening is for the good of the whole and is the source of human intelligence. Consider: The presence of living Spirit is grounded in creation. Sixth Station: Life on Earth Life on Earth most certainly began sometime in the next 50 million years, most likely in the shallow waters of the sea. Naturally occurring organic chemicals organized themselves. Cells formed. Through trial and error over millions of years, a particular strain of cells or maybe only one particular cell produced chemicals that could carry information about how to make materials necessary for maintenance and growth. Reproduction began. The current consensus of opinion is that just one quasi-living cell made this final step. If so, one unique, minute bubble of life is the ancestor of all living things, including us. Consider: We are members of the kingdom of living organisms with our beginning about 3,850 million years ago. We reflect on the power of the universe to be creative, to transcend itself. Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 3

4 Seventh Station: Multi-Cellular Species For 900 million years, bacteria were the only life forms on the planet, living only in the seas. Life on land is not possible because of intense ultra-violet radiation from the sun. For a long time, life is on a knife-edge. But cells begin to differentiate and specialize. New possibilities of life open up. Diversity accelerates the emergence of new species. We pause to thank and celebrate the simple organisms from whom emerged the entire canopy of life-forms that adorn creation today. Eighth Station: Life Goes on Land, Vertebrate Animals In a new development of life, plants and fungi appear. The first insects emerge. Forests flourish. The first vertebrate animals, the amphibians, begin to inhabit dry land. The complexity of embodied life reaches a new apex of elegance and beauty. Earth is becoming home to millions of species. We pause to consider: Earth seems to be endowed with an infinite capacity for innovation and creativity. Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 4

5 Ninth Station: Dinosaurs, Flowers, First Mammals Living being was developed to a point where it could survive. The coming of the flowers changed the face of the planet, producing seeds and invertebrates. This reproduction led to dinosaurs, to proto-birds and later to the first mammals. Consider the greater chance for survival that came with the mammals. The fertilized egg could be retained in the mother s body until the young animal or human fruit emerged, vital energy in a concentrated form. Without the flowers we humans would never have developed as we have. Consider the enormous interlinked complexity of life, our mystifying emergence through the coming of the flowers. The universe manifests its power of synergy. Tenth Station: Ice Age, First Humans Seven million years ago, Africa gave birth to the Human Species. Now we inhabit the entire planet, bringing forth new mental and spiritual powers through which matter becomes conscious of itself. Evolution moved to a new spiritual threshold as humans struggled to make sense of their awesome existence. Consider the journey so far: The fireball gave way to stars. Stars birthed planets. Biological and human history expressed new forms of creativity. Consciousness awoke. Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 5

6 Eleventh Station: Modern Homo Sapiens A species transition. Transformations led to human identity with increased brain size and physical adaptations. There is psychic development, a new sense of self-identity, artistic expression and emotional communication. Existence was greatly enhanced. Humans developed a sense of time and space. Rapport with Earth and with a Divine Being are expressed in ritual celebrations. Language is developed. Contemplate: Our existence comes from the heart of the Universe. The human story rose out of an irreversible sequence of transformations. The original and mysterious energy of the Universe is present in us. Twelfth Station: Our Species Today The human race is awakening to the reality that all is one. We can look back on the entire 14 billion years as an epic that must be viewed as a whole to understand its full meaning. This meaning is the extravagance of the creative outpouring where each being is given its unique existence. The Universe has brought forth a great unfurling of life. Consider: The evolutionary impulse continues in us. Thirteenth Station: Consciousness Changing We have learned that we are the Universe becoming aware of ourselves. Now we claim our place as cosmicplanetary creatures, alive in a wonderful world, welcoming the powers of the Universe to continue developing in us. Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 6

7 Questions for Reflection as We Return in Silence Where do you find yourself drawn into this story of the universe? What makes your heart dance with gratitude as you hear this story of creation? What is our greatest challenge as we care for our common home today? What gives you hope as we face the challenges together? i thank You God for most this amazing i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes (i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun s birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth) how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any lifted from the no of all nothing human merely being doubt unimaginable You? (now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened) e.e. cummings Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 7

8 Closing Prayer Creator God, we thank you for the astounding gift of creation! We celebrate life in all its bewildering diversity. We are held so graciously in the expansive web of your love. Fill us with wonder and joy in this journey and love of life. Help us to tend this magnificent creation with the love befitting the children of God. Help us to conserve natural resources, preserve fragile eco-systems, and nurture plant and animal life as we tend the common good. Help us to reach out and care for the least among us: the poor, the marginalized, the abused, and the despised. Help us to be worthy stewards of your profound gift of life in all its infinite variety. We ask this in your Holy Name. Amen. Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center Page 8

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