Finding God, self, and community in wild spaces. The better we know our wild neighbors the more we'll discover ourselves.
A vision informed by Henry David Thoreau’s interpretation of sauntering, Jesus’ understanding of neighbor, Aldo Leopold’s concept of thinking like a mountain, Rachel Carson’s prophetic voice and John Muir’s way of capturing the beauty and uniqueness of wild neighbors with words.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Welcoming the Fall with a Widlife Tour

Once everyone was acquainted we started things off with a moment of silent attentiveness. To allow our senses to be brought in tune with this wild space. To allow our hearts to be brought in tune with the Creator of us all.

A word was shared about loving our wild neighbors as ourselves.

As we prepared to enter the sanctuary of this wild space, an excerpt was read from Albert Palmer's,  book The Mountain and its Message. There are five parables of the mountain trail included in his book. This reading came from Parable #4.

And down the path we went; over the road and through the woods to the Barbour Rock vista. On this beautiful morning on the first day of Fall what an incredible vista it was!

This was a special moment. The seven of us stood above the fog. Gazing upon the landscape before us from the top of the West Rim we could see the top of the East Rim, and a river of thick-flowing fog between the two. It was clear skies above. Sunbeams brought a bright penetrating light from the east.

The Pennsylvania endangered Dwarf Juniper welcomed us with its spiky carpet-like presence growing over rocks and sloping soil. As a tour-guide it's always nice to have something to point out along the trail that's not going to run away.

As we took in the beauty of Dwarf Juniper, Red Cedar, and Silver Rod; a reading was presented from John Muir's book, My First Summer in the Sierra, page 87. "When you try to pick out anything by itself..."

Continuing southward along West Rim Trail, we were greeted by some hermit thrushes. One seemingly young bird watched us through the branches of an Eastern Hemlock tree.

Proceeding along West Rim Trail we walked as we talked, all the while sauntering along as if this were our holy land. This sacred space. This dirt trail with rocks, roots, and living things all along it. The truth is that this was our holy land; to be given the gift of discovering something of God in connection with each other as we came to know our wild neighbors better; and through this to discover a strength and beauty in our own person and abilities.

During a rest stop under the shade of a couple of large hemlock trees, I revealed my surprise to the group; a fresh batch of Eastern Hemlock Tea that I'd cooked up the evening prior. To me it always tastes better when drank in the woods, as opposed to the domesticated setting of a kitchen or a dining room.

 If one looks over the edge of the rim at this place in the trial it seems especially steep. And this was the place for our third reflection from an American Nature Writer, this time from Aldo Leopold, from his book A Sand County Almanac, pages 137-139. The story is called Thinking Like a Mountain. Well worth a read.

To think like a mountain would be quite a feat. To garner the entire wisdom of wild spaces. An impossible task, yet a hopeful dream of people like me.

A slug on a tree in the woods is nice. Kevin jokingly said, "He's going nowhere fast!" to which Laura replied, "Or going somewhere slow." Nowhere fast or somewhere slow when most of us would like to get somewhere fast. Not so for the slug. Mostly not so for us either, at least when it comes to the most worth-while destinations. Even the simplest things in the woods can offer wisdom and commentary on life in general.

A little farther along there laid a feather next to some mushrooms on the trail. Laura found it, picked it up. Together we considered this relatively large black and white feather that looked like it could be the molted wing feather of our largest of wood peckers, the pileated.

We crossed Colton Point Road and after about 50 yards made our final turn in the trail where West Rim Trail intersects with Bear Run Trail. A short line from Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring was read here. It's about how people are part of nature's balance, not somehow separate from it. Words of wisdom for the trail as well as the farm fields, the shopping mall, and the well-pads.

A couple of mushrooms and an unidentified pine tree later we arrived back at the parking lot.

We took turns each sharing with the other what felt special about this morning's hike.

Laura, Mick, Cindy, Kevin, Tom, and Ken, thanks for coming along.

What a way to start the day, the week, and the first day of Fall. 









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