When I taught pottery classes many years ago, I told the students that the most important part of throwing a pot was the centering. If the clay wasn't centered on the wheel, the pot would be misshapen. In fact, a lump of clay that is not properly centered can fly off the wheel...not a good thing as you can imagine!
Finding a place that centers your soul is important too. One can then create the beautiful empty vessel in your heart that can be filled with your experience of the landscape. For me now, it is the pond where I can best center myself.
Fr.Richard Rohr, the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico, wrote a beautiful exercise for creating sacred space as you walk and I include it here. I especially like the idea of creating a threshold at the beginning of your walk, no surprise after my recent pilgrimage, and the injunction to leave behind a token, which I always do when I visit especially meaningful places. You can read a past post on tokens here.
Go to a place in nature where you can walk freely and alone, ideally some place where human impact is minimal—a forest, canyon, prairie, bog, mountain. Tell someone where you will be and how long you expect to be there. Take adequate water and clothing for the conditions.
Begin your wandering by finding or creating a conscious threshold (perhaps an arched branch overhead or a narrow passage between rocks). Here offer a voiced prayer of your intention and desire for this time. Step across the threshold quite deliberately and, on this side of your sacred boundary, speak no words, but only expect!
Let the land, plants, and creatures lead your feet and eyes. Let yourself be drawn, rather than walking with a destination or purpose in mind. If you are called to a particular place or thing, stop and be still, letting yourself be known and know, through silent communion with the Other. Before you leave, offer some gesture or token of gratitude for the gift the wild has given you.
When it is time to return to the human world, find again your threshold and cross over. But now you have learned to expect God in all things.
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