Life at the Pace of Walking

Today’s post is by Cordelia Burpee “Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.” ~Abraham Joshua Heschel I have been doing a lot of walking lately. I thought it might be boring—all that time alone with no one to talk to, nothing to listen to—but I have realized […]

A Constant Steady Force of Peace

Today’s post is by Jamie Deering Spring offers us evocative reminders of the power and strength in rebirth. Seeds wintering below the surface of soot and soil waiting for love’s signal to sprout. Birds of the air and fish of the sea beginning their long migrations to nesting grounds across testing terrain. My own inner […]

Nature Heals

Nature heals. Numerous articles have reported on research documenting various healing properties of nature. Those recovering from surgery heal faster and with fewer relapses when they see a tree instead of a brick wall from their hospital window. Residents in Toronto reported feeling better and having fewer health problems when there were more trees on their street. Gardeners were no doubt affirmed to hear that a strain of bacterium in the soil triggers the release of serotonin that in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Children who grow up on farms are less likely to develop asthma. The microbes in the soil beneath our feet contribute to our health by way of the foods we eat.

I find these studies fascinating; I love being reminded of the synergies of all living things. Still I wonder what more is possible.

Walk Lightly

What freedom of spirit might come from holding all of life’s experience more lightly! This is not to deny the suffering in our world and the intense engagement required, nor is it to refuse joy’s courtship and lovely gifts. My colleague’s wife is a yoga teacher and she encourages her students to move solidly into a posture, but then to soften just a little and find the ease within the position they have taken. We can embrace the gifts of happiness fully and then find the freedom to smile at ourselves when we realize how tight is our grip and how serious our determination.

Finding a Thin Place

Today’s post is by Bill Stone

People come to Scotland looking for all sorts of things. When I first moved to Scotland six years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had traveled here twice on vacation and fallen in love with both the people and the place itself. But I also knew that living here would be much different from visiting for a week. There were a lot of unanswered questions floating through my head as I boarded a one-way flight into Edinburgh that August, but I was sure that this was where I was called to be.

The weeks that followed were a whirlwind of activity as I began a new job, moved into a new home, and obtained (after several failed attempts) a new bank account and mobile phone. In those early and hectic days I would often head up into the hills surrounding the town for some peace and quiet. Here I could rest. Here I could (literally) get a new perspective on things. Here, amidst the gorse bushes and the rowan trees, I had found my thin place—where the boundary between heaven and earth was especially transparent. Hill walking became a habit for me, and I came to regard my time there as sacred.

Waiting for Peace, Walking for Peace, Listening for Peace

Peace is not something far away, nor is it something that someone else has to make happen. It is already planted in my spiritual heart, a birthright, given as part of my creation in the image of God and awakened through the gift of God’s spirit in Christ.

Contemplation of Nature’s Offerings

Today’s post is by Bryan Berghoef. Contemplation doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s incredibly simple. When I tell myself I’m entering into a contemplative space, it’s as if everything else sort of blurs around me, and the center focuses more sharply.

My physical surroundings become secondary to my inner state of mind and heart. Beatrice Bruteau confirms that “what interferes with our living a contemplative life is not the busy, noisy, confused, demanding, harassing world in which we must earn our living and care for our families. We like to blame this environment, but that is not really the source of the disquiet. Even if we could go to the country, have nothing much to do and no threats to our comfort, we would take our own noisiness with us.”

That said, our physical surroundings do matter. My family and I recently relocated from a busy urban neighborhood in Washington, DC, to a rural farm in Holland, Michigan. The differences in our physical surroundings are plenty–yet as Bruteau notes, peace requires more than a change in scenery.

There was much to love about the city and the neighborhood we left behind. Yet undeniably my wife and I have both felt and experienced a kind of inner calming since arriving in our peaceful location, situated on the edge of my in-law’s spacious flower farm.

The sheer expanse of sky that one experiences in wide open spaces tends to nurture an inner expansiveness through a sort of spiritual osmosis. Simply walking beneath this wide blue sky does its own sort of inner work on one’s soul. In this soft, subtle space, I find myself renewed and refreshed.