At our June forest church gathering Wendy framed the worship time by noting there were two related ideas that coalesced on this day. The first idea she noted was the fact we are now fully into the season of spring with its corresponding concepts of new birth, beginnings, and growth. The related idea was this gathering corresponded with Fathers’ Day, which brings to mind family. The connections she made between these concepts led her to invite us to enter a half-hour period of contemplation with a spirit of childlikeness.
With those instructions in mind, I began my walk by intentionally slowing my already leisurely pace to be able to observe the small details that often go unnoticed. Then, as I had witnessed other children do, I rolled a log over to search for newts or observe what other creepy-crawlers may live beneath it. I also tried to channel the excitement and joy of, what I recalled of, childhood.
As I walked with the posture of childhood innocence, inquisitiveness, and uninhibitedness, the revelation that came to me, had nothing to do with engagement, exploration, or excitement. Rather, the gift that came to me was of a child’s ability to navigate the world with an unrushed, agenda-less stance with no need to accomplish any set of prescribed goals. In a period of my life, in which there has been a seemingly never-ending supply of prescribed goals, often with deadlines attached, and continual responsibilities, it was a blessing to be able to simply be present in the moment, to accept it for what it was, and revel in the simple pleasure of it.
My three-fold hope for this summer is first of all, that there will many opportunities to slow down, so that I can observe the unnoticed small details of God’s wonderful creation. Secondly, that I will be able to act more childlike in terms of my sense of adventure and joyfulness. And lastly, that I can learn to be present in the moment without the need to accomplish anything at all.
- Chip Bender
A prayer for the summer solstice ~
Great Spirit of the sun,
On this dawning of a new day
we turn our faces toward your radiance,
looking for your grace to shine upon us.
Creator of Light,
may your fire burn within us,
extending warmth to all
with whom we connect this day.
On this longest day of the year
we celebrate life, abundance,
fertility, growth, fruitfulness, ripening,
colour, strength, vitality, and richness.
We also celebrate this day with the
indigenous peoples who have called
this place home long before settlers arrived.
We pray that we might be good neighbours,
good listeners, and good allies as we
pray together for reconciliation,
for justice, and for the earth
we all call home.
Let us rejoice in this longest day of light!
- Wendy Janzen
From June 4-7 I (Wendy) attended the first ever Wild Church Network retreat in Wisconsin. It was a wonderful gathering of leaders who are offering wild church or forest church in their watersheds. We worshiped and theologized and shared ideas and dreamed about this network and what the future may hold for groups who are engaging people in "rewilded" outdoor worship experiences in their local eco-regions. We also prayed together. Here is a morning prayer I offered before breakfast:
Great, green God of growth,
generous giver of life and all good things -
We give you our thanks for the
gifts of the four elements
which come together
in this food, in our bodies,
and in all that has life.
The fertile earth;
the fire of the sun;
the air, breath of life;
the water, that flows in us and around us.
Bless the food we share,
Bless the hands that brought it to us,
bless our bodies,
and bless those we we are blessed
to share this meal with.
A prayer for Pentecost
Wild, Wondrous, Wind of the Spirit
On this day of celebration
enliven us with with the wind of life
that blows within and arounds us,
animating all that has life.
Fill us with joy and laughter.
Free us to dance like the wildflowers
swaying in the breeze,
and the treetops that bend and bow.
Help our spirits soar like hawks
on thermal winds.
Fan the flames of passion within us,
Ignite our imagination for the church,
for the world, for the entire cosmos.
Make us truly awake,
and abundantly grateful
for the gifts of the Spirit
that both unsettle and inspire.
- Wendy Janzen
Reflections, poetry, prayers, and resources written by Wendy Janzen unless otherwise noted.