Religious Exploration – Mother Nature and Cultivating Space
Leah | Mar 29, 2017

Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God.  

-Henri-Frederic Ariel

The Soul Matters Theme for April is Transformation

Make a bit of room. Leave a little space. That may not sound like anything radical or revolutionary. But it turns out that it is one of Life’s favorite ways to make us into something new.

Many of us are aware, through participating in things like Parent Support Group, or our own spiritual practices or in talking with likeminded people, to watch out for what our Soul Matters partners identify as “all the heroic talk about striving and perfecting, struggle and control” And, ironically, many of us need tools to pause and leave room. Spring is here – at the moment with both snow on the ground and increasingly warmer sunshine. This is a fine moment to consider getting out into nature as a practice to make a bit of space.

In her book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, Renee Peterson Trudeau makes suggestions of how to explore nature with your family in mindful ways. Perhaps you already get out into nature with your children every chance you get, or maybe you used to get out into nature, but find now that you’re too busy, or maybe you’re nervous about being out with bugs and animals.  Trudeau suggests starting where you are, even if you’re resisting the idea. Start small – a walk after dinner in your neighborhood as a family. I would add that maybe not everyone in your family accompany you; maybe some need to finish homework or get to practice. But make an effort and see what you can do.

Need more help getting started? Trudeau suggestions include:

TEAM UP: Ask your nature loving friends for advice on local spots and ask if you can join them on an excursion

HAVE A PICNIC: Pack a simple cold meal –lunch or dinner – grab a blanket and head to the closest park.

MAKE IT A GAME: If going for a walk is not a draw, get some outdoor games like Wiffle ball or Frisbee golf

ATTUNE TO NATURE’S RHYTHMS: Mark the full moon or the new moon (day or evening) with a hike, outdoor circle drum, or swim

CULTIVATE SPIRITUALITY: Create a nature altar by collecting some beautiful elements from your area and arrange them is a special place in your yard or lay them at the roots of a tree wherever you are.

Don’t’ consider this as a list of things to do, but rather specific ways to help you get outside and experience nature. As our Soul Matters partners suggest, leaving room for transformation is about “breathing rather than becoming better; patience not perfection; depth not dominance; attention not improvement.” May Mother Nature awaken in you awareness, patience, depth and attention to welcome the unexpected guests that Henri-Frederic speaks of.

In joyful service,

Leah Purcell, Credentialed Religious Educator

Director of Regious Education