On Faith and Landscapes

Not necessarily that i had planned it. But looking at my recent book collections (a good number were donated in the past 6 years) seem to reveal my deepest hunger at this point – back to nature, to some landscapes or lakescape i was familiar back during my childhood. The hunger for its silence as against the noise and distractions of the city. In all of these books, which happen to be either memoirs or autobiographies in disguise, one message is clear – intimacy with Nature (which includes its ravaging capacity), the openness to listen is a subtly phenomenal vehicle of transfiguration, nurturer of faith, purifier of complexities, a seedbed of single-mindedness or purity of heart or poverty of spirit. Such boldness to listen to Nature is a catalyst of social change because it humbles the human hubris to heed one to solidarity with the suffering. Nature disrobes one the superiority complex over ‘lesser creatures’ (how we take too seriously Christianity and Kant that human beings are the only dignified creatures and cruelty is justifiable as long as it benefits human beings). But for my faved writers, all of them bold enough to diverge from institutional and social decorum to discover (yes, it is something intentional) the ‘pearl of great price’ in solitude with Nature – it is mainly about kenotic listening to the land, the sea, the vanishing overlogged forest, the mined mountain, the herd of antelopes. The lakes. I am blessed by the virtual company of these courageous human beings:

Belden Lane – Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality (library copy only)

Maggie Ross:
1. Seasons of Death and Life – A Wilderness Memoir
2. The Fire of Your Life

Douglas Burton-Christie – The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism

Kathleen Norris – Acedia & Me: A
Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life

Vitaliano Gorospe – Banahaw: A Conversation with a Pilgrim to the Power Mountain

Robert Michael Pyle – Wintergreen: Listening to the Land’s Heart

Ted Kooser – Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (13th US Poet Laureate)

Alison Swan (ed.) – Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes

Douglas Vest – Luminous Island, Wondrous Self

James Paterson-Hamilton – Playing with Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island

Terry Tempest Williams – Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

Joe Hutto – Illumination in the Flatwoods: A Season with the Wild Turkey

Monica Weis – The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton

Denis Boyer – Listen to the Land: Conservation and Conversation

John Carroll – Sustainability and Spirituality

Trudy Dittmar – Fauna and Flora, Earth and Sky: Brushes with Nature’s Wisdom

Wendell Berry – Sabbaths

Mark Wynn – Faith and Place: An Essay in Embodied Religious Epistemology

These people sustain my vision; they actually help me form my vision. I’m still hoping my time in the city, including my reading and teaching time is never a wasted time, even as i look forward to the day when the mountain or desert or lake become our daily bread as well. Or as deathbeds?

Photo credit: Imageof


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