The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Connecting with Nature and the Spirit of Nature – in Word and Film

September 9, 2020

We need to connect with nature, it is so important for our physical and mental wellbeing… Connecting with nature isn’t so difficult for us here in Brighton and Hove. We have some fine parks and Sussex has some magnificent public gardens. The splendour of autumn has just begun, reminding us that the spirit of the season becomes even more beautiful as it gets older. A short film by Visual Air, with the title of  A Journey Through Autumn records the glory of this season.

We begin our latest Words of Connection with short reading by Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, in praise of the solitude of connecting with nature. In contrast, our second reading is a poem by Anna Akhmatova entitled Summer Garden, to remind us that we are only just moving out of summer…. We follow this with an ancient Homeric Hymn to Gaia, and ends with two superlative nature poems from Alice Oswald. Once more, thank you for your appreciation and contributions. If you wish to respond to this email, please contact me –

Stay well and please take care,
Very best wishes
Chair IFCG


Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav (1772-1811)

Grant me the ability to be alone
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grasses,
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.


Anna Akhmatova 1889 –1966

I want to visit the roses
In that lonely
Park where the statues remember me young
And I remember them under the water
Of the Neva. In the fragrant quiet
Between the limes of Tsarskoye I hear
A creak of masts. And the swan swims
Still, admiring its lovely
Double. And a hundred thousand steps,
Friend and enemy, enemy and friend,
Sleep. Endless is the procession of shade
Between granite vase and palace door.
There my white nights
Whisper of someone’s discreet exalted
Love. And everything is mother-
Of-pearl and jasper,
But the light’s source is a secret.


(Ancient Greek Homeric Hymn to Gaia)

To Gaia, mother of all, shall I sing:
The oldest one, firm foundation of all the world.
All things that move over the face of the earth,
All things that move through the sea, and all that fly:
All these are fed and nourished from your store;
From you all children and all good harvests come forth,
O blessed one, our mother earth.

O blessed one, mother of all mankind,
The giver of life and the taker of life away,
For mortal men, happy are those you honour:
Your fertile earth yields up riches to satisfy all their needs;
Their cities and their homes are filled with all good things;
Well-ordered lives of men and women you bless:
Good fortune is theirs.

Their children sing for joy and delight,
Exulting in their youth, they dance through the flowers;
And over the grass they dance for joy.
It is you who bless, it is you who nourish, Sacred spirit, mother earth.

Be well, be well, mother earth,
Lovely bride of starry heaven, of starry heaven;
And for my song grant me life both full and long.

It is you who bless, it is you who nourish,
Sacred spirit, mother earth, our blessed mother earth.


Alice Oswald

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary

is one of water’s wishes and this tale
hangs in a seed-head smaller than my thumbnail

if only I a passerby could pass
as clear as water through a plume of grass

to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip

then I might know like water how to balance
the weight of hope against the light of patience

water which is so raw so earthy-strong
and lurks in cast-iron tanks and leaks along

drawn under gravity towards my tongue
to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song

which is the story of the falling rain
that rises to the light and falls again


Alice Oswald

I was born bewildered
at dawn when the rain ends;

uniquely no one in particular, a pauper in a shack of flower.

At dawn, when the rain ends,
things drift about seeking shape.

I saw pollen pass through trees
in no rush
possessing nothing, not even weight.

I set out, taking my whole world with me,
wrapping myself round in my own identity as thin as a soap film,

and all that day I was a wind-born eye.
I couldn’t put myself
at rest, not even for one second.

Increasingly unfocused, spinning
through the disintegrated kingdom of a garden,
and going nowhere
and feeling myself at all angles,

I was huge,
like you might sow a seed guitar,
a cryptic shape of spheres and wires.