As I write this early on a Sunday morning, hundreds of people throughout the community are loading themselves into their cars and driving to their churches to participate in their worship rituals. My spiritual journey will involve neither automobiles nor buildings. Rather, my soul longs for the trees and the water, and the singing of birds rather than the singing of a choir.
Joseph Campbell said, “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” I find myself in nature. No matter where I am, I need to find nature. This is especially important for me due to the fact that most of my life I've dwelt in cities. My childhood years proved difficult and painful, with few friends, but Mother Nature always accepted me with open arms. Whether it was the back yard, or a park, or a garden, or sitting in a tree on the banks of the Detroit River, my sacred spaces surround me if I just look about.
While walking through certain neighborhoods we may find images and statues in gardens and other natural places of St. Francis of Assisi. He is most often depicted with birds and other animals surrounding him. In his "Canticle of The Sun" St. Francis refers to the wind, the stars, the waters, as brothers and sisters. He wrote:
Praised be my Lord for our sister, mother earth, The which sustains and keeps us And brings forth diverse fruits with grass and flowers bright.
Despite the buildings and concrete surrounding us in the city, if we pause we can hear the birds sing, and feel the sun on our skin. It is possible to find nature in places we may think nature does not exist. One can enjoy spiriual connections within a church and congregation, as well as in the sidewalks and streets around us. Get out of your car. Exit the building. Go forth and experience the nature around you!