In the Adirondacks many of us dedicate our energies to preserving our beloved lands and waters for generations to come. At times, it’s discouraging. What helps is reading stories of ways we can connect with the natural world. I think of Ralph Waldo Emerson calling us to be silent, “that we may hear the whisper of God.” I think of John Philip Newell calling us “to reawaken to the sacredness of the earth and every human being.”
Newell is the author of many books on Celtic Christianity. In his latest award-winning book, Sacred Earth: Sacred Soul, he devotes a chapter to John Muir and shares Muir’s wisdom in a five-minute YouTube video, asking us to care for the earth.
Muir knew himself to be a part of nature, saying, “In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world.” Newell builds on the hope that if we live by a true relationship with earth’s wildness it will affect what we do with our leisure time, will remind us what a healthy diet is and how to farm the land, and inspire us in planning our cities and restructuring our neighborhoods, “in ways that reflect our need of nature’s wildness around us and among us.”
My hope is here in the Adirondacks we live this wildness that inspires us to care for our precious home. Muir says, “The sun shines not simply on us but in us. The rivers flow not [just] past us but through us … and every bird song, wind song, and storm song [is our song].”
Fortunately for us, thanks to the combined efforts of volunteers from the Keene Valley Congregational Church and the Presbytery of Utica, the church is hosting a weekend retreat July 14 and 15 with Newell and Cami Twilling, Director of Earth & Soul. Newell and Twilling will lead us in a weekend of study, reflection, and spiritual practices. Friday night Newell will guide us in nurturing practices to help ground us on this sacred earth. He will be available for book signings. Saturday morning will be devoted to contemplative practices, followed by a luncheon.
Saturday evening the film ‘Hebridean Treasure: Lost & Found’ will be shown at the Keene Valley library. Newell tells the story of Celtic Spirituality and its love of Earth through the lens of the Western Isles of Scotland. It includes the suffering of an area in which tens of thousands of Scots were cleared from their ancestral lands with the consequent loss of the native wisdom for the healing of humanity’s relationship with Earth.
To register for this weekend retreat visit https://www.eventleaf.com/e/JPNewell_KeeneValley
For more on Newell and the Celtic initiative Earth & Soul visit https://www.earthandsoul.org