Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity,
an antidote to the high pressure of modern life,
a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.
— Sigurd F. Olson
There were many benefits from my first trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness 25 years ago. Far from the least of them was to experience the world that Sig Olson had so beautifully chronicled in his books. He stands in the rich tradition of Aldo Leopold and Annie Dillard who I talked about two weeks ago. Dillard was in the eastern forests, Leopold in the plains of Wisconsin. Olson was in what I consider one of the incredible spiritual places set aside for wilderness.
Sigurd Olson (April 4, 1899 – January 13, 1982) was an American author, environmentalist, and advocate for the protection of wilderness. … In June 1921, Olson took his first canoe trip where he fell in love with the canoe country wilderness of northern Minnesota that would become the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (with his help)…. He spent most of his life in the Ely area, working as a canoe guide during the summer months, teaching, and writing about the natural history, ecology, and outdoor life in and around the Boundary Waters.
Other benefits from my first trip (and others that followed for several years) included:
- A new and expanded experience of nature
- Hard work to get there was a reminder of our advantages
- Dependence and survival on community
Sig Olson was able to express that essential need in much of his writing.
There is a hard core of wilderness need in everyone, a core that makes its spiritual values a basic human necessity. There is no hiding it....Unless we can preserve places where the endless spiritual needs of man can be fulfilled and nourished, we will destroy our culture and ourselves.”
— Sigurd F. Olson
- “A hard core of wilderness need…”
I have been blessed by countless sunsets in more places than I can remember, even over the parking lot in back of our apartment or from the top of the Empire State Building in New York City. But there is something different about a sunset over an ocean or lake, the Gulf of Mexico or a flowing river. There is a power as the sun sets behind a rolling hill, a distant prairie horizon, or a rugged Rocky Mountain peak. It is at one and the same time inspiring, humbling, and downright exciting.
In my language and life I would call that spiritual. As Sig said in the quote above, our need for wilderness
- “…makes its spiritual values a basic human necessity…”
We dance round in a ring and supposeThe mystery of life can perhaps best be felt or encountered in the wilderness as we listen.
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows..
I named this place Listening Point because only when one comes to listen, only when one is aware and still, can things be seen and heard. Everyone has a listening point somewhere. It does not have to be in the north or close to the wilderness, but someplace of quiet where the universe can be contemplated with awe.”"Thin places" is a theme that I have personally explored and experienced. They are Sig Olson’s listening points.
— Sigurd F. Olson
The Celtic Christians believed that there were mystical spaces, called “thin places,” where the veil between the holy and the human is traversed. A place in which the physical and spiritual worlds are knit together, and if we are so attuned, we can transcend the ordinary for a glimpse of the infinite. -Link
- Lent is a time for us to discover our own thin places, our listening points.
- Lent is a time to explore the spiritual calling or callings within us.
- Lent is a time to contemplate the universe from the aspect of God’s love as the underpinning of it all.
- Lent is a time, a season, of renewal of our inward journeys so that we may have a stronger foundation for the other seasons we have in front of us.
- Lent is a time to develop the habit of listening in thin places in every aspect of our lives.
Live in each season as it passes;
breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden