It's Good to be Home

Simon Shadowlight
This month we begin an exploration of a book I highly recommend, Spiritual Ecology: 10 Practices to Reawaken the Sacred in Everyday Life, by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. From the introduction, “spiritual ecology arises out of the need for a spiritual response to our present ecological crisis. Without including a spiritual dimension to our response to “the cry of the Earth,” we are in danger of reconstellating the same materialistic paradigm that has created our present consumer-driven ecocide.”

Over the coming months, we’ll tale a look at each of the ten chapters and offer suggestions on a practice that you can engage with during that month. I hope it serves you well.

Let’s begin with the practice of walking out in nature. Perhaps you have a favorite place you can venture off into, a greenbelt or a local park. Many of us are blessed to live near Mile Hi Church, at the base of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. A relatively short drive away (depending on traffic) can lead one to numerous state or county parks in the foot hills. If you’re willing to make the effort to get off the beaten path, wilderness and solitude abounds.
My family and I are very blessed in that we can walk out the door, and follow a trail that leads off into the mountains. We have spent many hours on those trails and it always brings a sense of “getting away.” As I think about it, however, perhaps “getting back” would be a better way to say it.

It’s not my intention to replicate the contents of the book in our newsletter, yet I hope to provide an idea or two that you can engage with as a form of ongoing practice. The idea here is to take some time on a regular basis, perhaps at least once a week for the coming month, to go for a walk in nature. Here are some guidelines:

  • Go somewhere where you have a sense of solitude, to the level that feels appropriate to you. With the pandemic, my wife and I have noticed many more people heading to the hills. That’s good… and some of the more popular areas can begin to feel like shopping malls or zoos rather than “wilderness solitude.” The intent of this walk is for you to be with nature, so find a place which provides that opportunity.

  • Go alone. Of course, this is completely up to you and your comfort level. Do whatever you need to do to feel confident and secure. But, as I said, it’s a chance to be with nature… it’s not a social time or a chance to connect with friends. The intent is to be present and experience nature... and yourself.

  • Walk mindfully and with intention yet go without a specific goal or expectations. This isn’t about completing a certain distance, a specific trail, or reaching a destination. It’s not about maintaining a certain pace. Just walk. See if you start walking in a certain rhythm. Notice the way your body responds to and accommodates the terrain. Pay attention to the places in which you contact the rest of the world: the sun or wind on your skin; the feel of your weight upon the ground and the ground “pushing” back (or, if you prefer, supporting you).

  • For a potential stretch, pick the days and times you will venture forth before hand and commit to them. Commitment is important in relationships. Go no matter how you are feeling… and see if how you feel changes over the course of your walk. Go no matter what the weather is. And consider going lite. Leave the cocoon of safety and the creature comforts at home (but do be safe and appropriate for the place you are going and your level of experience).

  • Most of all, have fun.

So, there it is… so simple. But trust me, so profound and so full of potential. Give yourself the time and the space to simply walk out in nature. It’s good to be home.

And so it is.

Peace and blessings,
Rev. Simon