In The Cosmic Dance: An Invitation to Experience Our Oneness, Joyce Rupp celebrates the kinship of all creation through poetry and prose. It is the kind of book that has you putting on your dancing shoes in tribute to the mystical connections that make our lives so rich and so deep. In her new book, Rest Your Dreams on a Little Twig, a collaboration with illustrator Barbara Loomis, Rupp tutors us in the art of savoring every brimming moment. In 65 brief poems she discovers God's fingerprints on trees, streams, flowers, weeds, frogs, stones — everywhere. To find them, we just have to take the time to truly commune with a natural world that is laced with wonder. Rupp puts us in the catbird seat of attentiveness and reverence.

The author demonstrates how nature can become a spiritual teacher for us. She writes in the introduction: "I saw how parts of my inner story were reflected in nature: wildflowers swaying in the breeze and little birds winging their way in the wide sky drew me to recognize the caged places of my own spirit. The aged frame of an old tree beckoned to my ongoing struggle with aging and bodily demise. A brown, speckled sparrow sitting trustingly on a tiny twig taught me to have confidence in the fragments of my future until they were able to gather and take shape." In these poems, Rupp holds up a mirror so that we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives.

The poet marvels at the transformation of a tadpole to a frog and wonders why she is so impatient ("I still look for easy growth / and instant change."). Gazing at some flowers that have lasted a long time, Rupp makes a vow to nurture herself so she can better carry on in the long span of her lifetime. A green shoot growing out of a stump becomes a sign of resurrection ("Things in me that have died, / the worn-out and the worthless, / they are waiting to give rise / to some green shoot / of a sister.") Our favorite is one in which she is awed by the transformation that has taken place inside herself:

How I love it
when what I've known
as a weed
in me
suddenly becomes
a beautiful flower.

How I delight
when the rejected part
of me
becomes my friend.

How I cherish
the struggles
that change
my inner enemies
into my beloved friends.

We all could benefit from using plants, trees, and animals as spiritual role models. All that is needed is the patience and openness to learn. The next time you are out in nature, look around until one part of the creation catches your attention. Ask her what she has to teach you.