To walk contemplatively in nature, is not to hike, not to be in a rush to reach the end, but to be receptive to the present moment, to be open to wonder.
The experience of ‘awe’ is a touch deep within, an overwhelming feeling of reverence, of something that transcends understanding, that expands human consciousness.
Awe can be experienced in listening to a sublime piece of music, in standing before a fine work of art, in the beauty of the words of poetry, it can also be experienced in being ‘present’ to the wonders of nature.
This is perhaps what John Muir, the influential Scottish-American naturalist, explorer, and advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States, had in mind when he wrote that ‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.’ Contemplative walking is an invitation to such receptivity, not only in extraordinary experiences such as gazing on Uluru, but also in the ordinary moments that unfold during a simple nature walk.
In the early morning air, crisp with the promise of autumn, in the dawn that colours the sky, smeared streaks of white on a canvas of blue.
In the chorus of birdsong, the laughing kookaburra, the sharp crack of the whipbird, the cry of the spotted green catbird, the murmuring of the doves.
In the abundance after rainfall, the sounds of the water running over the stones in the creek, the profusion of new growth on the trees in varied shades of green.
In the mass of yellow butterflies fluttering around the bushes and trees in an exuberant dance of life.
For such are the moments of awe which enable one to understand that the ‘milieu’ in which we live is permeated by the Divine. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin s.j., in his book The Divine Milieu quoted from St Paul telling the Areopagites of a “God, who made man that he might seek him – God whom we try to apprehend by the groping of our lives – that self-same God is as pervasive and perceptible as the atmosphere in which we are bathed. He encompasses us on all sides, like the world itself. What prevents you, then, from enfolding him in your arms? Only one thing: your inability to see him.”
Why not join us this year, we have a number of walks planned, come and be present to the contemplative way of seeing in nature, perhaps you too, may ‘receive more than you seek.’
(Image Enoggera Reservior photography by Min Wullems)