Have we had the worst of the cold for this winter? I’m used to there being a mid-winter thaw around the time of my birthday (last week), and I’m wondering how many more cold moments we will have.

Members of our community planted bulbs around the grounds of the new Shelter Rock Patio last fall. I’ve been walking around the places where we planted and have been watching the first daffodils just beginning to break through. Have you noticed them? Sure sign, my heart cries, that spring is on the way.

Sacred perambulation is part of my spiritual practice. With a pagan friend, we walked around the area where she was going to perform a rite. In a practical way, we wanted to be sure that the walkways into and out of the sacred grove were clear. No places were exceptionally boggy and no trees had fallen on familiar path. In a more “woo-woo” way (my characterization, not hers), we imagined the energy of the space; where the sun fell, where the sky was visible, what felt enclosed and what open. We wanted especially to pay attention to allow the natural world to bathe us in its energy. To become more grounded and centered. To breathe deeply and allow nature’s breath to become our own.

Another friend invited me to spiritual perambulation at a retreat center upstate. We walked quietly, allowing our breath to be deep and our eyes open to see what was around: a wildflower, a bird on a branch, a Red Eft on the path. After a time, we found our way to an open space where we sat and shared a Korean chant. After more silence, we spoke to each other and shared from the fullness of our hearts.

An aboriginal storyteller in Australia began her story, “touch the earth lightly.” Many in the human family resonate with this encouragement because we so readily see the many ways that humans—throughout the story of our species—have abused the earth and its resources. Once, humans got what they needed and then moved on to another place, following the animals who themselves had learned to read the seasons and to migrate according to conditions of the earth. Later, much later, the day came when we settled down. We began to make claims on the land and its resources. We began to change the story from one where the earth holds us to one where we falsely imagine that we own the earth.

So I walk this earth, as lightly as I can. We who use perambulation as a sacred act walk (or roll or move in other ways) lightly. We remind ourselves that we are dependent on the health of the earth herself for our survival. Dependent on the earth for the survival of our children and grandchildren and all who follow.

The earth is calling, friends; daffodils are breaking through the ground cover. Our hearts are calling; the earth herself is inviting us to walk lightly, to get grounded, to allow the healing of earth and sky, to create the conditions for a clear and grateful mind. Almost spring!

Yours in a faith that is liberal and liberating.

Rev. David Carl Olson
Associate Minister for Congregational Life