" Whether we are the last human beings on the Earth in this time of climate crisis or the first in a new community of renewal that lives more in genuine relationship with each other and the Earth, our greatest hope is first simply to be blessed by and in return bless the Creation."
Brief Bio. Presbyterian pastor and certified Spiritual Companion, rooted in soul connection with nature.
Tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to this work.
I am healing. I am currently in the middle of a bone marrow transplant for lymphoma, which is a 2-year process. After months of preparation involving chemo and radiation, I received donor stem cells (from my brother) June 16, 2023. Now it is mostly house arrest—isolating, resting and healing as my newborn immune system slowly regrows over many more months. It has been a great challenge to my body, but also my mind and spirit being mostly isolated from those I love; having to retire in November 2022 as pastor of the church I had served for 28 years; and finding my way into the new chapter of marriage, friendship, and life.
In some ways, the disease itself and the long time of isolation has been monastic. I have been surprised and amazed by moments of rapture recognizing the wildness, the thrilling life, that is my human nature. The caress of a cool breeze, the warmth of the summer sun and the sudden birdsong are simple life-giving wild gifts in my brief ventures out into the yard with the dog.
I came to this work through the writing of Richard Rohr and Bill Plotkin over ten years ago. I participated in an Animas Valley Vision Quest in 2016 and a couple of Animas experiences thereafter. Through the Seminary of the Wild I came to appreciate my own “watershed” and place on the Earth here and now. I am a retired Presbyterian Minister with 36 years of full-time ministry experience, a Doctor of Ministry and a certificate in Spiritual Companionship from Mt St Scholastica Benedictine Women’s Monastery in Atcheson, KS. (The sisters say, “Direction,” but I like “Companionship”). I was in the first Seminary of the Wild in 2019-20.
What are the lands that raised you, and how has your own connection with the natural world influenced your path?
I grew up on the edge of a town in rural Missouri in the 60’s and 70’s. I spent many long days in “the woods” near our home alone and with neighborhood kids. I can still hear the meadowlark, the red-winged blackbird and feel deep grass tugging at my feet as we waded through the fields going nowhere in particular. It was through SOW that I came to realize that the same God was as real in my childhood memories of wonder in “the woods” as in the church our family attended. In fact, “the woods” were my first spiritual companion. I still live on the edge of Kansas City, MO, near a small wild space.
Why do you believe a practice of spiritual connection with the earth is important for our time?
A few years ago, I regularly walked to church. Along the sidewalk was a dead tree full of buzzards. Right in the middle of a suburban front yard, a huge dead tree with a dozen turkey vultures roosting on the high, bare branches! Each morning they would stretch out their wings and sun themselves. As I passed beneath them on the sidewalk, I really felt them blessing me. A blessing I would hold out my arms to receive and return.
Whether we are the last human beings on the Earth in this time of climate crisis or the first in a new community of renewal that lives more in genuine relationship with each other and the Earth, our greatest hope is first simply to be blessed by and in return bless the Creation.
What are you looking forward to offering as a guide in Seminary of the Wild Earth?