Last Sunday we had a lesson about the spirituality of trees. We learned some amazing facts about how the forest functions as a “superorganism,” with the trees, bushes, plants, and fungi cooperating rather than competing with one another. We learned about how trees communicate with and care for one another, recognizing their own kin, shuttling extra nutrients to trees who need it, warning one another of danger, and passing on wisdom from generation to generation.
This Sunday we will continue with the theme of the spirituality and wisdom of nature, looking at how we can deepen our experience of the divine by locating the sacred in the natural world. I’ll be drawing from a book I’m reading this week called Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us Into the Sacred by Victoria Loorz. In her book, Rev. Loorz describes a movement she founded which aims to free spirituality from the confines of the church walls and restore our relationship with the wildness of nature. Church of the Wild groups meet outside, in nature, and help people to re-discover their connection with the natural world. A couple of local churches have started a group and I’m hoping to gauge the interest our own community might have in starting something similar. This would, of course, never be in place of our regular Sunday church services, but rather would be an additional, perhaps monthly, service designed to give us an opportunity to expand our experience of the presence of God.
As you consider these things, I invite you to read the following poem by Mary Oliver called “Wild Geese,” and as you read it, notice the images of nature and wildness. How do these images make you feel? Then pay special attention to the last line of the poem where it says, “…announcing your place in the family of things.” Does this phrase evoke a sense of belonging to something greater than yourself? If so, then Church in the Wild may be something that will resonate with you. Come to this Sunday’s service to find out more!
You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting– over and over announcing your place in the family of things. -Mary Oliver