I’m in a wild place that I love, seeking the Wild Divinity and feeling the brush of her fingers across my hair as I canoe beneath the branches of a cypress tree in the Honey Island Swamp.
I am done with living a careful, circumspect, insulated life of clinging to safety.
I am all in for the adventure of a wildness coursing through me, like this winter wind rattling my bones.
I am forming a new relationship with the barred owl, lured outside by her seductive call, entranced by the sight of her silent and powerful flight between the high branches, until she perches to eye me as intently as I eye her. I’m in her wild place, and not yet sure if I am a welcome guest.
But I know I need her wildness, this awakened moment with senses alive and attention captured, and a new friend in the trees. She is a wild creature, and her presence helps me remember the wildness in me.
Moments later I’m in another wild place that I love, seeking the Wild Divinity and knowing his nearness in the lively conversation of twenty-four people gathered at the edge of the swamp in our new home. We are in the perfect place for exploring the spirituality of nature writing. We are reading nature authors together voice by voice, sitting in silence to listen well, then speaking what we are hearing within. We are meaning makers.
We are disorderly. No one is dictating acceptable speech, or excluding certain speakers based on gender, or race, or sexual orientation, or creed. Every voice is a voice of the Wild Divinity. And he teaches us what we need to know in multi-layered truth, full of paradox. It’s like the story of asking, “Is the truth this or that?” and the answer is always, “Yes!”
In a xenophobic culture that is suddenly all about fear of neighbor and exclusion of neighbor, that is building walls and expelling guests and blocking safe passage for refugees of war, we are wild enough to practice philoxenia–love of every neighbor–in this house.
We believe we are following the Wild Divinity, who created every child in his myriad images and who loves them every one. He whispers in our ears, “When you gather this community, ‘all are welcome’ means ALL.” We are wild and wise enough to answer, “Yes.”
For these very brief moments of one human life, I choose to live in these wild places I love, seeking the Wild Divinity in the barred owl of our swamp and a community of philoxenia. And you, dear reader, are welcome to come be wild with us.
For more stories of our wild community see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture (Wipf & Stock, 2014), and the Vimeo on the homepage of our website about the School for Contemplative Living at http://www.thescl.net.