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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Rest for this weary soul at Hammond Lake

Standing here on the East Shore of Hammond Lake, at the point that is called Pine Camp, I can feel a subtle change in the Fall migration. Most of the birds that prefer tropical winters have flown south. The birds for whom North-Central Pennsylvania is south for the winter have begun to arrive. We are still in dreary November which for the time being is neither hot nor cold and mostly windy and brown to look at. But winter is coming. This change in seasons makes me want to do an overnight backpacking trip, or at least spend a full day in the woods from dawn till dusk including meals cooked on the trail over a camp fire.

Maybe my inspiration comes from having just finished George Washington Sears, a.k.a. Nessmuk's book titled Woodcraft and Camping. I resonate with his thought that spending time outdoors should be, among other things, rest for weary souls.

"We don't go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it," says Nessmuk, "we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks-anywhere that we may be placed..." (George Washington Sears "Nessmuk." Woodcraft and Camping. Dover Publications Inc. New York, 1963. Page 13)

This reminds me of the words of Jesus who says, "come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Oh the joy of finding Jesus (or of Jesus finding me) in wild spaces...in the delightful pitter-patter of merganser's feet as the whole flock alights from the choppy waters of Hammond Lake, on the wings of a bald eagle soaring high above, in the winter call of a tree sparrow, or even by the way that dormant oaks stand so sturdy and immovable.

It is rest for this weary soul, and the gift of wild spaces has a way of smoothing all the rough edges of daily living, don't you think?

The one who approaches wild spaces with a receptive mind and an open heart walks on into
endless mystery and acquaintance, and with these gifts comes joy and anticipation.

To the mergansers out on the water; do you enjoy the sound of your feet against the water's surface upon take-off as much as I do?

To the eagle and the gull; do you await the arrival of this massive flock of mergansers each year with eager expectancy since they make it easier to locate the densest pockets of fish activity?

To the lone tree sparrow perched on a birch branch. I can see that while you're the only member of your species present here that you are not alone. Did these 30+ juncos in your company breed in the same area as you? Did you all depart the southern edge of the Arctic circle together?

To all who share this wild space in this moment, peace to all of you, my neighbors with whom I'm pleased to know as I rest along the edge of these ice-fringed waters.

















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