Monday, February 23, 2015

Nature as a Spiritual Practice

Today was the first day of the program I am offering through my church called "Women Spirit, Nature as a Spiritual Practice." There are 11 women registered and we will be gathering at local parks and nature preserves over the next few months as we spend time in sitting in nature trying to get to know ourselves better as informed by the natural world.

With tarp and chair in tow, I wandered off away from the other women, wanting to get further off the beaten path to spend my solitary hour completely immersed in the woods. A small clearing beckoned to me and I followed some deer tracks to gain access. Upon arriving at my chosen spot, I threw my tarp upon the ground and immediately laid down on it and gazed upward at the sky feeling a connection with the earth below me and the trees surrounding me. It wasn't until the cold from the snow began to seep into my bones many minutes later that I got up and sat in my chair.

My new found vantage point found me staring straight at a huge beech tree which had a long scar along the bottom of it. The purpose of today's exercise was to notice what things called out to you in nature and to think about how they may have correlations to your life. I spent some time writing my thoughts in my journal asking questions of myself and of my surroundings. I felt the woods offered up many stories to investigate and consider.

Later, the other women and I gathered together and shared our stories of our alone time in nature. Many expressed gratitude for being able to have this time in the woods alone, something they never dared do before. Because we were in a group, all heading out to separate places though, it felt safe. Others said they would have spent this winter day enclosed in the warmth of their homes if the class had not brought them outdoors and they were so glad to have been coaxed out into the wilds. Glad to embrace the lessons of the natural world.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Must we shop till we drop?

Something about the carefree freedom found on the beach appeals to me. Pulls me out of my adult world and takes me back to my childhood. Sand castles, wave dodging, wind pulling at my hair. Collecting shiny rocks, grit between my toes, breathing in fresh air.

No matter what my age, each time I visit the beach, I return to age ten, giddy and carefree as gaze out into the blue expanse, looking for land to appear on the other side but really seeing myself and my place in the interconnected web of life mirrored back at me on the hazy horizon. Tapping into the great mystery that pulls at me whenever the immensity of the natural world makes me feel so very insignificant. Connecting me to something much greater than I.

This letting so of adult pretenses allows me to return to a child like sense of wonder, drawing me back to a place of being present in the moment without distraction. Feeling, sensing, tasting, breathing. Not wishing for tomorrow or thinking about yesterday but just simply enjoying the sun upon my face as I marvel at the shoreline extending off into the distance.

Unfortunately, just recently, I was not able to tap into these feel good feelings of childhood wonder when I found myself on the beach on a mild November day a few weeks ago. Distracted as I was by the fact that the beach parking lot was completely empty as we pulled into it while the shopping mall lots we had passed on the way were packed full of cars. Why, on such a beautiful day, was everyone shopping rather than beach combing? Or beach being? Missing out on the peace found in a sand and water soaked landscape. Why were so many choosing to shop rather than basking in the beauty of the natural world? Why?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Along Crum Creek

A peaceful respite from an all too busy life with a walk along the creek last Sunday. Trying to get back to finding time to blog again after too much time away but know it may be 2014 before that happens. So much has transpired in the last year. My oldest son has married, my youngest is applying to colleges, I have finished my Pennsylvania Master Naturalist training program.  I am thankful to know that when life keeps me running like this, I can head out into the woods to restore my soul.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Standing in Wisdom

I would love to stand in the wisdom of the trees. To feel fully rooted and all knowing. Able to reach up and out toward the light of the sky, embracing all of what comes. Standing toe to toe with the other sentinels of the forest. A heavy coat of bark working to keep out what causes harm. Yet still aware that harm can come from those planted nearby, limited by their experience of growing in the shadows. Wishing for them to find sustenance from the waters of the creek of life as they grow.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Into the Dark

After spending a few hours this morning outside with my dog group, I have done nothing more than read, research and write while sitting inside over the course of this winter day and I am ready to leash up my pup Dakota and go for a walk. I have found myself recently drawn to a local neighborhood park near my home during my evening walks and have enjoyed the stillness found there, the quiet that comes on when everything is cloaked in darkness. Houses, though just yards away, disappear at night and I find myself feeling as though I am deep in the woods, wandering alone, able to think more clearly, away from the roads and sidewalks and hurried commuters heading home from the train. I almost feel pulled there each night, as though my brain needs the rest this small oasis affords after a day of thinking. To stare into the ribbons of woodlot surrounding the park, not sure of what I am trying to see or discover as I let the cold evening air settle in around me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winter's Way...

I love how just a light dusting of snow can paint our world another color. Cover up some of the dark spots in our lives and brighten things. Walking along a snow covered path enlivens me. Offers up hope for a new way of seeing things, allowing me to walk toward the light.

 My pup Dakota bounds along the trail and into the creek as we walk. Even for her who typically lives life in the moment, this moment in the wilds of winter she seems more exuberant, embracing the day and all it holds. Always hopeful, moving forward.

May Dakota's example and the beauty nature offers me,  show me a way to move through my world in this new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Home for the Holidays

For five short days we were all together once again, my older son having traveled from DC to come spend some time with us over the holidays. The time went too quickly. While we did have lots of fun visiting with friends from out of town, hosting a board game playing soup party, and attending a birthday party while he was here, it seems there is never enough time to do it all and before you know it, the adult son you so warmly welcomed at the train station just days before is being taken back to that same station and sent on his way.

Where did the time go? I had that same feeling as I sat gathering my special holiday napkins from the cupboard near the Yule tree when I happened to glance up at the tree and notice a handmade ornament made by my son dated December 1992. It only took me a few seconds to compute that the ornament had been made 20 years ago. It took me much longer to comprehend how 20 years had flown by in the space of what felt like just months. Where had the time gone? I began to cry thinking about how fast time goes and how it feels almost impossible to savor time enough. To slow it down and really enjoy it and know it and feel it.

Given how precious time is, I have begun to think more seriously around how I desire to spend my days and have come up with some changes I'd like to make as I move into the new year. They involve embracing yoga, meditating, writing, drawing, reading, walking a local labyrinth, eating well, journaling, spending more time in the woods and with friends and family.

My oldest son left today, my youngest leaves tomorrow for San Francisco to visit a friend. I'll have about a week to put my plans for myself into motion. Not too much time, but enough I hope to embrace a new way of being.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Walk

I love getting outside this time of year and with a bit of snow falling from the sky, my husband and I headed out to walk along Crum Creek with our pup Dakota. The creek is about a 15 minute stroll from our house but we enjoyed taking many detours to give our pup a chance to run off leash. After letting her tear across the local school yard, a soccer field and the college campus, we entered the woods along the creek and settled into enjoying nature's beauty as the snow changed over to heavy rain.

I've been reading a book by Theodore Roszak called "The Voice of the Earth - An Exploration of Ecopsychology" and am finding myself getting incredibly drawn into it. The book speaks to me on many levels and I find myself contemplating it as I take in the sounds of the forest with the wind in the trees and the rain splashing upon rocks. Enjoying the music of Roszak's words and those of the forest- can't think of a better way to spend a day.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Continuing my research this morning. Found an interesting article on Ecology and Spirituality shown below:

Vanderbilt University started a three year program to look into how religion and culture impacts nature.

This got me thinking about a college degree in Ecospirituality and I found something at Naropa University on Ecopsychology and linked the webpage below. Bear with me as I do this investigating. Finding my calling...

Off I go to take my son rock climbing. Will have to resume this thinking later...

Faith and Ecology

Been thinking about what class I am going to offer at my UU church this fall in the area of environmental justice. Spent some time on the UU Ministry for Earth website and came across a few interesting directions. First of all, I discovered that a woman named Barbara Ford is offering workshops called Gaia Workshops which are very similar to those that  Joanna Macy runs. Barbara's website can be found at:

Also discovered a new curriculum on environmental justice called "Our Place in the Web" which looks incredibly interesting and one I'd like to check into. Further information can be found at:

Lastly, the UU Ministry for Earth site has a great reference book called "Earth and Spirit, Bringing Ecology into Adult Religious Education" which can be ordered from the site below. This guide offers a sample curriculum for adult RE which looks interesting.

The UU Ministry for Earth site can be found here:

Will spend some time tomorrow working on the direction I'd like to go with this for the fall semester. Looking forward to where this will take me.

With a bit more research, I found another fascinating website I will need to check out. Not enough time in the day to pursue what interests me.

David Korten's website:

Discussion Guide info for David Korten's book, "The Great Turning"