The Day the Hippos came to Church
A group of us gathered in His name on the morning of Saturday, 7th March, at Rondevlei Nature Reserve. This was Vlei Church – an opportunity for “a meditative encounter with God – to listen to God speaking through creation . . . earth, wind, fire, water and all the creatures of creation.”
The week before, also at Rondevlei, some of us had had the privilege of hearing Bp Mark of the Navaho people in Turtle Island (otherwise known as North America) share some of the ways and wisdom of his people. He told us that whoever they meet and whenever they meet them, they greet them as family. In the same way, the Navaho people experience their relations with the land and the animals on it, as family relations. So we started Vlei Church by greeting each other, the land on which we stood and the animals living there, as members of our family.
We met at Rondevlei much as we might meet in a beautiful church designed and decorated symbolically to inspire communion with God and to help bring us closer to God and grasp if only a tiny bit of the great mystery that is God and God’s cosmic creation. We met with the Book of Creation open before us and what we saw and experienced was good indeed.
Our opening prayer was one authored by Jo Poore:
Mother, Father, God, Universal Power.
Remind us daily of the sanctity of all life.
Touch our hearts with the glorious oneness of all creation,
As we strive to respect all the living beings on this planet.
Penetrate our souls with the beauty of this earth,
As we attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of the seasons.
Awaken our minds with the knowledge to achieve a world in perfect harmony
And grant us the wisdom to realise that we can have heaven on earth.
‘In the round’ we then repeated a few times the first four verses of Psalm 19:
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
A quiet walk in openness to whatever we came across allowed us by God’s grace to sense the Holy Spirit’s presence and each of us to hear what we needed to hear. Some of this we could then share with one another sitting on the grass overlooking the vlei.
Our gathering was especially blessed with a rare daytime sighting of some of Rondevlei’s shy hippos as well as by the presence of many beautiful flamingos, pelicans and other birds.
Thank you, Lord, for this special time with You.
Our next Nature Church event will be “Forest Church” on the 11th of April
 Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (eds), Earth Prayers From Around the World, p.179