A Spirituality of Nature

Katherine Houk

As I am writing this, it is the month of March. Last week the air was filled with fat fluffy clumps of snowflakes, swirling gently in the chilly breeze. Today we have temperatures in the high fifties, and the snowdrops and crocuses that poked up during the past week are blossoming. By the time you read this, it will be April. As always, I look forward to the rebirth of the land in Spring, its beauty and life-affirming energy, which feel especially important in these turbulent times.

In her Transfiguration Sunday sermon, Patty Fox spoke of “mountaintop experiences,” during which the Holy shines through and touches us; our experiences of the “living light,” a feeling of unity within us and around us. In particular, she mentioned a person who, to re-experience such moments, would “call up prairie grass” to soak in its memory and pray. And remember the hymn/spiritual/Appalachian song “Down to the River to Pray?”

All my life I have experienced the natural world as sacred. Experiences among the trees, with plants and animals, with sea and sky can be healing for me, sometimes even transformational. In her sermon, Patty said that, for the most part, people don’t like to talk about their experiences of the sacred. They may fear being disbelieved, even ridiculed. I believe that good can come from such sharing. It is reassuring to know that we are not alone, and we have much to learn from one another.

In January, I made the decision to offer a Creating Space series which values the expressing of our sacred moments, specifically those occurring within the natural world. The novelist Saul Bellow once said, “I feel that art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm. I think that art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.”

Putting together our nature experiences with our need for an “eye in the storm,” I offer this series as a way to express such sacred moments. The three gatherings are entitled “A Spirituality of Nature.” In this series, after first teasing out what “a spirituality of nature” might mean, we’ll explore ways to foster openness while engaging with the larger-than-human world. During the week between each session, we will individually immerse ourselves in engaging with nature. When we come back together, a vital part of our gathering will be expressing our nature experiences in whatever way is right for each of us: story, artwork, photography, poetry, journaling, movement, or song, and sharing with one another in a safe space.

If this series appeals to you, visit www.creatingspacecollective.org to register for A Spirituality of Nature. The meeting dates will be May 11, 18, and 25 at 7 pm. This series is open to people from any faith tradition or none; please spread the word to friends and family, and remember—the outdoors is calling you.

The Saul Bellow quote is from Conversations with Saul Bellow, edited by Gloria Cronin (University of Mississippi Press, 1994).