Reflections on Spiritualism in Nature
I like the flow of a series of recent posts, encouraging members to list and categorize practices they employ individually to further the concept and discipline of spiritual ecology. However, these deep and rather esoteric exchanges serve to remind me palpably that my own related practice is soil-rooted. I offer a participant’s late May category-structure immediately below (italics); taken directly and in-full from that person’s shared communication:
- A daily ritual consisting of an amalgam of yoga, QiGong, and aikido
- A weekly QiGong class
- A daily meditation sitting (reflecting the influence of an eclectic group of Buddhist teachers)
- Occasional Buddhist meditation retreat (usually at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies)
- Focusing exchanges with several partners (a practice based on the work of Eugene Gendlin)
- Occasional reflective journal writing
- Periodically following/occasionally contributing to [exchanges among this group]
- Frequent listening to the weekly “On Being” interviews conducted by Krista Tippett
- Frequent reading of novels (e.g., Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, The Overstory by Richard Powers)
- Sporadic reading of emerging findings from physics (e.g., the work of Carlo Forelli)
- Occasional reading of Buddhist writings (e.g., Stephen Batchelor, “After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age”)
- Occasional reading of poetry (e.g, “Beannacht by John O’Donohue)
- Occasional ritual of viewing visual images on the web that inspire wonder (e.g., Steve Axford’s photographs of fungi, Camille Seaman’s’ photographs of “supercell” storms, or images of galaxies or other cosmic formations
- Occasional reading of a daily prayer at Prayer Wheel
- Occasional reading of Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
- Very occasional ingestion of the (illegal) psychedelic drug psilocybin (which happens to be the subject of a new book by food-writer Michael Pollan
- Leadership of [a State] chapter of Elders Climate Action and participation in the national leadership team of that group
- Participation in The Environmental Voter Project
Please don’t misinterpret; I am not making light of such an approach. I admire the intellectual sobriety, the metaphysical rapture, and the intense pursuit of spiritual ecology. I have chosen a different path. Or might I say an alternative path has chosen me.
My Practice of Spiritualism in Nature is Soil-Rooted
Allow me to illustrate my woods and Nature orientation using my own examples from earlier in June:
- A nineteen-mile greenway bicycle ride this morning (see photo; relax — no snakes and only rabbits, squirrels, and birds!)
- Daily spinning bike when I can’t venture outside
- Resistance routine at the gym 2-3 mornings per week
- Lots of yard and garden engagement
- Connecting spiritually along the trail this morning — nothing beats the elixir of breeze, birdsong, stream gurgle, and deep shade
- Walking in the neighborhood at dawn this morning — watching distant lightning far to the WSW
- After daybreak observing the mammatus clouds (under-lit by sunrise glow) from the storm’s anvil streaming toward us, even as the cell lost steam and energy, fully decayed before reaching us
- Posting weekly (plus or minus) essays to my website (http://stevejonesgbh.com/blog/) — core theme: Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading
- I posted the most recent essay this past Tuesday (May 29), offering reflections on a rehabilitated surface mine I visited in Ohio two weeks prior (http://stevejonesgbh.com/2018/05/29/idyllic-pastoral-earth-stewardship-surprise-exemplar/e )
- Just yesterday I completed my next-to-last chapter of a book I am co-authoring with a Puget Sound-based colleague. The chapter: Nature’s Islands — Physical and Metaphorical. I’ve discovered in my semi-retirement that thinking requires far less energy and stamina than writing. I do not think to write; I write to think.
- I read and re-read (frequently Aldo Leopold, Leonardo da Vinci, and Robert Macfarlane (among others)) to inform and lift my writing
- Weekly hikes with area retired professionals — I took the photo Friday of the 30-inch diameter shagbark hickory between thunderstorms. What could be more spiritual than this magnificent organism standing tall in a second-growth forest?
- This morning along the greenway I found a so-termed lesser denizen — a plate-size mushroom. Certainly not lesser spiritually (see photo)
- I tend to discover the spiritual in Nature whenever I look for it. Friday’s active atmosphere rich with moisture and instability served up the visual gift of a roll cloud created by down-drafts from a mature cell (see photo)
- I avoid political engagement. Instead, I volunteer teach for a local university and a lifelong learning center — Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading. I urge participants to make informed decisions whether at the ballot box or the grocery store. I do not tell them what is right.
Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2018 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”
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View this photo and brief text as postscript to this Spiritualism in Nature essay I penned in June. My August 28, 2018 photo captures a Natural Cathedral forest within Alabama’s Monte Sano State Park — the spirit (and Spirit) lies within. I felt the magic and joy… and sensed the complementary forces of humility and inspiration.
And even more recently, this October 2, 2018 sunset photo connects to my very heart, soul, and spirit!