Outdoor spirituality: some tasting notes
Environmental crises, from global warming to the catastrophic loss of species, follow the pattern of the story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2. Paradise lost, through a failure of care.
The story introduces a God who unveils creation, animal by animal, as if to a friend. Whatever the Man called them that was their name.
God’s friendship with humanity was renewed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; who asked his disciples to consider the flowers of the field and birds of the air (Matthew 6:26). Consideration for them, as well as of them? If so, involvement with conservation projects follows.
Out on the marshes, I find myself whispering birds’ names (as it were) into the ear of the Creator who befriended Adam. In that moment, I have a sense that all is not lost.
Again, wildflowers between graves in conservation churchyards, speak to me of the resurrection hope and a world to come in which Paradise is restored.
In the original Easter Garden, Mary mistook the risen Lord for a workman (John 20:15)! The gospels recall similar encounters with Christ, who is revealed at the breaking of bread; not least, meeting his fisherman friends in Galilee (John 21). Walsingham is widely recognised as England’s Nazareth. How about England’s Galilee as a pilgrim destination? North Norfolk and/or the Broads are both strong candidates for the title – places where one can come apart and rest awhile, or get into a boat and go over to the other side.
Echoes of Galilee abound in the Broads. Sauntering across the meadows, or paddling a canoe to St. Peter’s (the fisherman) Church at Belaugh, I pass wild flowers, birds and a boatyard – where chippies mend boats, as Jesus probably did for his friends. He would go up into the hills to pray. I climb to the ancient church and “kneel where prayer has been valid”.
Churches in heritage landscapes combine with nature to form the sort of places Celtic Christians called “thin” – where the presence of God is palpable.
In a profound stillness, in All Saints’ Church, Horsey, at the breaking of the bread, I hear, but fail to identify, birds that are calling in the distance. Later, I discover they are Common Cranes. (Whisper their name as a prayer!) Although rare in Britain, 30,000 of them winter in the Hula Valley of Upper Galilee.
On a practical note, Norfolk Wildlife Trust hopes to secure the Cranes’ habitat by purchasing parts of Hickling Broad. An appeal has been launched, which I am supporting.
How about you?
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One day with Adam Jackson – Christian eco-camp entrepeneur
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Ruth Valerio, keynote speaker at Good News for God's Earth, the Diocesan conference on Christian concern for the environment, challenges us to consider how we can be the change we need to see for our world.More
Face to faith – Simon Court
A degree in Environmental Science, a career in teaching, and volunteering for many different charities has contributed to Churchwarden Simon Court's passionate concern for environmental issues.More