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Entering the Spring Wilderness

“Wilderness is everywhere. You don’t have to go tromping to the mountains or desert as I did. You may find it in a local park, an open field, or a small woods…you may even find it in your own room, or in your own body and mind. All it takes is listening for Wisdom’s call…Wilderness changes you.”                                                                                Gerald May


Since I was a child. I’ve been fascinated with the wilderness. Sitting in church and hearing the story of John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey in the wilderness. Experiencing fear and excitement as a severe thunderstorm approached while in the woods. Scrambling over boulders on a mountain where the sun was setting quickly and temperatures were rapidly dropping. Camping near the banks of a river where hippopotamuses were grunting and a little too close for comfort. Even my backyard felt like a wilderness when the nighttime animals emerged to find food and brawl with one another. Wilderness experiences require one to be live on the edges or beyond what is comfortable. They require you to face fears, questions and unknowns.

 

Gerald May said wilderness is everywhere and it changes you.  It’s the difference between living with one’s own predictable and safe recipe for daily living and exploring and intentionally experiencing ways to discover we’re part of something so much bigger than ourselves.  As nature makes its seasonal transition from winter to spring, I’m more aware of nature’s dramatic shifts and changes taking place around me.  With the arrival of spring, there is the invitation to notice the erratic, untamed weather—one day freezing cold and the next balmy. I like to go outside and breathe deeply, remembering the gift of breath as the cold or warm air moves through my nose and mouth. Waiting for 10 minutes or so, I watch as the birds and animals return and notice all that is in motion around me. Sometimes nature’s rhythms are in the wind or some kind of gentle or pulsing beat that matches my breath or heartbeat.

 

Breathing and simply noticing are two spiritual practices that help me with this winter-to-spring transition. This transition can be jarring since it requires emerging from winter days of quiet stillness and introspection and into ones that are more alive and overflowing with activity and creativity. Spiritual practices such as breathing and noticing help us bring the reality of the wilderness into the more conscious physicality and earthiness of our lives.

 

In addition to breathing and noticing, this spring I’m going to practice being like a tree, grounded and rooted in my earthly home. The tree “re-wilds” itself with growth, new leaves, and branches each year. This year, I want to re-wild myself with the new growth of experiences and opportunities that can form needed stories of meaning in my life. Spending time in my backyard, walking the trails in the nearby woods, and visiting unknown landscapes will become a daily practice. I am listening. Listening for the sights and sounds of nature to inform and guide me. I can’t wait to hear what nature has to say.

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