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.

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