“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself . . . We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge . . . We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all of us into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”
On Saturday, I gave a four-hour slideshow presentation in Denver on Wilderness Mysticism, using my own photos and choice passages on Nature and spirituality from various writers.
The venue was the Center for Contemplative Living, a part of the Contemplative Outreach organization that Thomas Keating set up in 1983 to teach Centering Prayer. Sixty-five people attended - a larger group than they typically get on a Saturday morning - and the response was very positive. I especially appreciated the fact that we all began the morning with a communal centering prayer sit.
I dressed up like John Muir - with jeans, white shirt, vest and Western hat - and I guess I came off as pretty animated, for I didn't see anyone appearing bored or falling asleep. It was nice to see everyone so happy, especially since I'd just finished my Naropa course the day before, where fully half of the students were either bored, apathetic, had an axe to grind, or tried repeatedly to derail the class. (I am especially grateful to Vincent and Katherine, who were my salvation in that class).
I'd begun to wonder in fact if I'd lost my ability to inspire others, and the workshop - together with those two students and several others - helped me realize I haven't! I am supremely grateful to the Great Mystery that I still have a role to play in this life . . .
Photos: Desert Paintbrush and North Window, just after sunrise, Arches National Park, UT; Two pictographs from the Archaic Barrier Canyon Culture located in Sego Canyon, UT, ca. 5000 B.C.E. to 500 A.D.
For Spiritual Direction or Workshops, please visit: http://www.resourcesforspiritualgrowth.com/
Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.