All bodies are sacred

All bodies are sacred

A generative critique of capitalism is an essential strand in my forthcoming book Wildwood Wisdom (due out next year with Wildhouse Publications). The root of my longing to write this book is my personal experience of slowly disentangling myself from institutional religion and the industrial growth society.

You are more than fuel for the industrial growth machine. You belong first to yourself (body, mind and spirit), then to the rest of the world how and when you choose to share. We are not resources to be used to manufacture wealth for the few.

Your life is sacred and so is mine.

We are bearers of the divine spark, individually and collectively, the imprint of the infinite. Every human body and every furry, feathered or flowering body, and the body of the living earth, is the original sound and echo of creation.

World Communion, St. Francis and Laudato Si’

World Communion, St. Francis and Laudato Si’

Sunday, Oct. 2nd this year was World Communion Sunday. Today, Oct. 4th is the day marked by Catholics, some Protestants and even a few post-religious folx as St. Francis day, or the feast of Saint Francis. St. Francis of Assisi is known for his love of nature, a life lived in service, preaching even to the flowers, and a celebrant of poverty. In 1979 St. Francis was recognized as the patron saint of ecology.

Francis considered all nature as the mirror of God and as so many steps to God. He called all creatures his kin and inspired millions of people to step away from the mainstream and into contemplative, service-centered life.

From St Francis’ CANTICLE OF THE CREATURES

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

If you have not yet, I invite you to take the time today to read LAUDATO SI’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment in which he calls all people, especially people of faith, to rewild their understanding of our place in nature and our responsibility to care for our common home, earth.

Though I am a far-left process, transcendentalist, universalist Christian-ish gal, I am energized, encouraged and wildly grateful for the Pope’s pointed and clear paper on our human responsibility to one another in and through our commitment to the environment.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this in turn affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children.”

To truly be in communion with the whole world, to share in the body of the Creation and incorporate the heartbeat of the Eternal into our own lives, we must include our kith and kin of the plant and animal kingdom in our yearning for liberation and justice.

What might communion that includes a call to environmental justice look like?

As as start, I’d like lift up a professor, preacher, theologian and new friend, Rev. Dr. Leah Schade who is doing wonderful work offering congregations the tools they need to discern faithful ways to be in full communion with the created world.  Dr. Schade’s book Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit is a powerful resource for leaders at every level of congregational life.

And finally, you are invited to offer your own whole-world, fullness of creation, communion prayers and practices in the comments.

Fall Equinox – turn, turn, turn

Fall Equinox – turn, turn, turn

I was shuffling around the garden shed looking for my crate of dormant tulip bulbs when images of my childhood surfaced in the cool darkness of the Dutch dawn. 

I remembered tumbling into the kitchen, grubby from school, grabbing a floppy slice of bologna to run back out and play Swinging Statues with the twins next door.  Dad was in the backyard, after a long day of welding Atlanta’s skyline, picking the last of the summer pole beans while mom was in the kitchen, phone cradled on her shoulder talking to granny, canning more tomatoes and okra than we’d eat in a lifetime. 

What I can see this morning, all these years and a continent away, is that it wasn’t just beans and okra they were preserving. Mom and dad knew what we kids didn’t, that the coming winter was more than twinkling lights, pretty packages and paper snowflakes. Winter could be a bitter season for a man who spent his days astride iron beams high above a city quickly outgrowing itself. Work could be wanting, so dad and mom would harvest, preserve and pickle to keep our bellies full all winter long. Hope is what they were harvesting. 

The equinox, a moment each spring and fall when the earth and all who dwell herein cross a threshold where light and darkness are equal as the earth tilts neither toward nor away from the sun.

In the process of writing my first book, Wildwood Wisdom, I am lingering between the light and dark as I harvest, preserve and share what I’ve sown across 5 decades. It is not always easy work, and Lord knows many days work at my desk is wanting, but I am thankful for this season to look with wonder at a life tilted on the axis of hope. 

As the wheel of the year turns, I invite you to take time at this threshold of seasons to linger and look tenderly at the balance of dark and light in your life. May you harvest with hope what is nourishing and compost with compassion that which does not feed you.

Welcome to the pack, Butterbean

Welcome to the pack, Butterbean

Some of y’all know that we lost our dear Louie this summer to cancer.

Beautiful people, it is my honor to introduce Butterbean, the newest member of our family who arrived this weekend.

No paws will ever fill the Louie-sized hole in our hearts, but we are deeply grateful the rescue folx (thank you Astrid Ufkes) who brought this little light into our lives all the way from the streets of Cypress.

Welcome, Butterbean! We look forward to sharing many Wildwood adventures and snuggles.

#rescuedog #adoptdontshop

A wildwood book deal!

A wildwood book deal!

Friends and kinfolx, I am excited to finally share that I’ve signed a book deal with WildhousePublications, a vibrant new imprint that aligns with my verdant vision and values.

Good grief, y’all, for over 50 years I’ve been on a crooked and branching path from magnolia groves to tulip fields, from digital diva to tree hugger, from seminarian to nature therapy guide.

And now, thanks to Wildhouse, especially acquisitions editor Rev. Suzanne Woolston Bossert (clearly called to this sacred work), I have an opportunity to do the hard work of writing about how I’ve encountered a bit of wholeness in all of my wandering and wondering.

If you’d like to sign up for email to stay tuned for news as this wild new path unfolds, I promise…

a. to NOT spam your already overworked inbox

b. to NOT give or sell your info to anyone, most espeically not to anyone pedaling more junk that none of us need.

c. to definitely share a weekly, brief nature connection invitation to enrich your experience of the wild word. 

Sit Spot – be still and know

Sit Spot – be still and know

“The first good thing is the goodness of nature.”

– Julian of Norwich

How many seconds has it been since you checked your phone? How long is your to-do list? How are culture wars treating you?

Maybe it’s time for a sit spot.

Taking time to regularly rest and reset in a sit spot is a gift to yourself and the world around you. Sit spot is a gentle practice that opens the doors of perception and presence in your day-to-day life. It is a radical departure from the glorification of busy to give yourself permission to simply sit, look, listen and experience your place in the natural world and as Mary Oliver said, “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

What is a sit spot?
A sit spot is a natural place that you can visit as a regular mindfulness, bodyfulness practice. Sit spots can be lush and deeply wild, neat and tidy in the burbs or tiny patch of green in the city.

If you’re not sure how to pick the “right” spot, that’s okay. There is no such thing as a perfect spot in nature. If your first choice turns out not to be ideal for your practice, even better because you get to explore more natural settings!

There are a few essential elements to selecting your sit spot. Safety first, friends! Your sit spot should be a place where you feel and are safe. There should be some presence of nature. Outdoors is ideal, but a lovely spot by a window or in a house-plant nook can work wonders too. Ease of access to your sit spot is pretty important. The more accessible your sit spot is – the closer to your home or easier to set aside in your home, the more likely you are to visit it with intentionality on a regular basis. Ideally it should be less just a few minutes to get to and settle into your sit spot.

Once you’ve selected a spot and settled in, you are invited to spend between 10-20 minutes unplugged and tuned in to the world around you. While sitting, look around to get to know the space and the beings with whom you share this place. Notice your noticing by lingering with what draws your attention. Are you curious, let your attention linger a bit longer.

After you’ve introduced yourself the spot and the beings around you begin to make themselves known, invite your senses into deeper connection. Reach out and see what you can experience with your sense of touch. What sounds are nearest to you, and which sounds are the far away? What is the smallest things you can see; what is really close or super far away? What does the sky feel like on your skin?

What are you noticing?

And that’s it folx, it really is that simple. Think of your sit spot as a tiny slice of sabbath you can experience any day of the week. Sabbath is a gift, a may not a must, where we are invited to step out of the unnatural, dehumanizing industrial growth society to slow down and connect with our true nature, others and the numinous mystery of life. A sit spot, when visited regularly over time, can begin to open those doors in gentle and surprising ways.

If you begin this practice, and I really hope you will, I invite you to come back here to share a photo of your spot and maybe something you are noticing now and over time.

Sometimes it is helpful to reflect on a prompt at your sit spot. If you would like to receive weekly sit spot prompts, please sign up below. Sit spot prompts will begin Friday, August 26.

If you’d like to schedule a walk with me and explore sit spots in Leiden, The Hague or Amsterdam, you can connect with me here.