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Forest Bathing at Crystal Spring Trail

Forest Bathing at Crystal Spring Trail

Join us, Friday April 26 for an eco-spiritual experience of forest bathing.

Forest Bathing (also called Forest Therapy or Shinrin Yoku) is a guided practice inviting us to awaken our senses and deepen connection with ourselves, others, and the Ground of Our Being.

Our guide, ANFT-certified guide, Kimberly Knight M.Div., will take us through a structured experience with a sequence of invitations and contemplative prompts.

Forest Bathing, also known as Forest Therapy, is inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku 森林浴 which translates literally as  “Forest Bath.” The nuances of this terminology are:

• Bathing as immersion in the forest atmosphere
• Bathing as taking in the forest through our senses
• Bathing as being in the present moment, being in the here and now (Naka Ima 中今 or, in the “middle of now”)

Forest Bathing is more than a walk in the woods. Developing reciprocal relationships with the Web of Interbeing can be a mindful, spiritual practice. A forest bathing walk is an open and affirming practice; there are no prescriptions for what a person “should” experience or what benefits they “should” receive. Instead, it is a practice of invitation that supports a deeper relationship of reciprocity with our kin of the other-than-human world.

We will meet just before 10 a.m. in the Greenwood Park parking lot and begin walking promptly at 10 a.m.

Please bring a thermos of hot water and a light snack.


Tickets below are offered on a sliding scale based on the “green bottle” equity framework. You can read about this framework here.

Slow down

Reconnect with nature

Notice your noticing

Realign your inner compass

Where in the world?

Where in the world?

I’m thrilled to share some exciting news with you all! In April, I’ll have the honor of presenting “Rewilding Spirituality” at Harvard Divinity School as part of the esteemed Program for the Evolution of Spirituality. This presentation dives into the concept of reconnecting with nature to revitalize our spiritual practices.

Following this enlightening event, I invite you to join me in Latvia this June for GATE – The 4th Gathering for Adventure Therapy in Europe. Here, I’ll be sharing my workshop titled “Forest Bathing for LGBTQ+ People and Allies.” This workshop explores the healing power of nature for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies, delving into the intersection of adventure therapy and inclusive outdoor experiences.

At both events, I’m eager to connect with fellow practitioners, researchers, and professionals from various backgrounds to celebrate the transformative impact of nature-based practices on individuals and communities alike.

Let’s embark on these journeys together, as we explore spirituality, nature, and the profound connections between them. Stay tuned for more updates and insights as we prepare for these enriching experiences! 🌍✨ #HarvardSpirituality #RewildingSpirituality #GATE2024 #AdventureTherapy #NatureHeals #LGBTQ+Inclusion

Online Terrarium Building Workshop

Online Terrarium Building Workshop

Embark on a miniature gardening adventure with a remotely guided terrarium-building workshop! Join friends and fellow nature lovers from around the world in crafting your own lush, self-contained ecosystem within a glass enclosure. With an array of vibrant plants, decorative stones, and other natural elements to choose from, the terrarium building workshop is a hands-on, imaginative experience that brings the beauty of nature to your fingertips.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find an interesting, sealable bottle to use for your terrarium. Thrift shops, estate sales, and kringloops are great places to find creative containers such as glass coffee pots, large corked jars, or old apothecary bottles. Just make sure there is plenty of room for a handful of pebbles, a scoop of dirt, and a few plants growing to keep you company all season long.

You will then collect from your local garden store just two or three tiny, terrarium-friendly plants, pebbles for drainage, moss, and other natural elements you may want in your little glass garden. Special stones, sticks, or other elements are a nice touch. You might even want to add tiny fairy home pieces if your container is large enough.

Then, on March 17th at 7 p.m. Central Europan time (World time Buddy can help you convert that time), we will meet via Zoom and I will guide you in the creation and long-term care of your enclosed ecosystem.

Participants will receive a Zoom link after registration.

Here are some nice plants to consider.

 

Forest Bathing in Amsterdamse Bos

Forest Bathing in Amsterdamse Bos

Join certified forest therapy guide, Kimberly Knight for a walk at the Amsterdamse Bos to slow down, tune into your senses and reconnect with the natural world of which we are a part.

Light refreshments and a handmade, upcycled journal are included.

We’ll begin with fully arriving in the forest and grounding our connection with nature. We will then slowly share in invitations to experience the forest intentionally and reciprocally. We will even enjoy some tea under the trees and have plenty of time to just be still and notice our noticing.

These walks are always slow and easy-going, not a hike; not a naturalist tour of plants or trees.

Walk length: 2 hours; please wear comfortable, sturdy shoes for walking outdoors. Bring whatever else you require to feel comfortable.

Participants will be asked to silence and pocket their phones, so let folks know you will be unavailable for a couple of hours.

All participants of Wildwood Wisdom activities are personally responsible for their own fitness, safety and welfare and must be equipped accordingly.

A minimum of three participants is required for a walk to take place. If the minimum registrations do not happen, registered guests will receive a full refund.

Slow down

Reconnect with nature

Notice your noticing

Realign your inner compass

“Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.”

― Robin Wall Kimmerer

Our Sacred Nature Retreat

Our Sacred Nature Retreat

Whether you seek quiet introspection or spirited connection, you are invited to save the date – November 7-10, 2024 –  for next year’s weekend retreat held by and for LGBTQIA+ folx and our dearest allies at the Vines Center just outside of Little Rock, AR.

During the day we will immerse in forest bathing, gentle yoga, sound baths and labyrinth walks. In the evenings we will gather in the warmth of communal fireside conversations where your story is honored and your presence cherished.

Wherever you are on life’s journey, you are invited to experience the profound beauty of both the outer landscape and your innermost self.

Visit Our Sacred Nature to learn more and register.

Mindful Monday in Nature

Mindful Monday in Nature

Give yourself the gift of slowing down. Join certified nature therapy guide Kimberly in the lovely Leidse Hout for a mid-day mindfulness walk to connect more deeply with nature through a gentle, contemplative walk inspired by forest bathing. 

A good portion of our time together will be in silence. This offers you the opportunity to experience the forest and to connect with others who want to experience nature fully and deeply. By choosing to stay away from friendly chit-chat and explore what it’s like to walk in nature without speaking, we have a chance to engage our senses more fully and to truly connect with the natural world.

• Be Prepared

Dress comfortably for walking on natural terrains in chilly weather. Bring a water bottle, but little else so you are unencumbered for your walk. Participants will be asked to silence and pocket their phones, so let folks know you will be unavailable for a couple of hours.

All participants of Wildwood Wisdom activities are personally responsible for their own fitness, safety and welfare and must be equipped accordingly.

• Meeting Place

The Leidse Hout Tea House

• Meeting Time

We will begin walking at 12:00 sharp and we finish around 13:00.

In the event of cancellation due to severe weather, participants will be notified by 7 a.m. the day of the event.

——-

Did you know that in 2018 the National Health Service of Scotland started prescribing “birdwatching, rambling and beach walks in the Atlantic winds to help treat chronic and debilitating illnesses for the first time.”

“Forest bathing” originates from a Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku, which means “taking in the forest.” This will be a slow paced, mindful time spent in the woods and an opportunity to reconnect with the natural world.

Nurturing Leadership: Bridging Feminist Principles with Nature and Spirituality

Nurturing Leadership: Bridging Feminist Principles with Nature and Spirituality

To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe — to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it — is a wonder beyond words.
Joanna Macy
As we approach 2024, seeking to embrace the transitions ahead with a full and open heart, I feel called to explore the parallels between the principles of feminist leadership and the inherent wisdom found in nature.
 
Feminist leadership theory is grounded in values such as inclusivity, equality, and empathy. When we integrate ideas from nature and ecospirituality, these interwoven principles encourage us to recognize and appreciate the diversity of life and leadership. Nature becomes a canvas where the interconnectedness where all members of a professional ecosystem can thrive and contribute their best to the vision and mission of an organization.
 
I appreciate you taking the time to wade in these waters with me and I’d love to hear your thoughts. And remember, feminism is not a dirty word and anyone, however you identify, can explore and embrace feminist ideas.
 
— Ecosystem Diversity as a Model —
Nature thrives on biodiversity, where various species coexist, supporting each other. Similarly, feminist leadership encourages diversity in teams and workplaces, recognizing the strength that comes from different perspectives.
 
— Interconnectedness and Collaboration —

In ecosystems, species often rely on each other for survival. Similarly, feminist leaders stress collaboration, understanding that a collective effort is more powerful than individual contributions. Just as ecosystems are interconnected, workplaces benefit from a web of supportive relationships.

 

Feminist leaders champion collaboration over competition. In the context of spirituality, collaboration becomes a spiritual journey, a collective endeavor toward a shared vision. Leaders, inspired by spiritual principles, can facilitate environments that encourage mutual support, shared growth, and the collective pursuit of a greater good.
 
— Adaptability and Resilience —
Nature is resilient and adapts to changes. Feminist leaders, by being open to critique and feedback, exhibit a similar resilience. They learn, evolve, and adapt their strategies to overcome challenges, just as nature does in the face of environmental changes.
Ecospirituality recognizes the importance of continuous learning and adaptation to changing environmental conditions. Feminist leaders, by being open to critique and feedback, demonstrate a willingness to learn and evolve, fostering a culture of growth and adaptation.
 
— Sustainability and Long-Term Change —
Nature’s systems are sustainable, and it promotes enduring change over short-term gains. Feminist leadership, focusing on lasting structural changes, aligns with the idea of creating workplaces and societies that stand the test of time, fostering gender equity.
 
— Empathy in Nature —

Observing animal behavior often reveals empathy and social bonds. Feminist leaders, by emphasizing empathy, create workplaces where individuals genuinely care for one another.

 

A heightened and active sense of empathy enables us to understand different viewpoints and collaborate effectively. In a professional setting, this skill is invaluable for building strong teams and fostering a positive work culture.
“Women with a feminist perspective and vision of social justice, individually and collectively transforming themselves to use their power, resources and skills in non-oppressive, inclusive structures and processes to mobilize others—especially other women—around a shared agenda of social, cultural, economic and political transformation for equality and the realization of human rights for all.” – Srilatha Batliwala
 
— Leadership in Natural Systems —
Ecosystems have leaders in the form of keystone species or dominant individuals. Feminist leaders, similarly, take the lead in advocating for gender equality. Both in nature and in the workplace, effective leadership involves guiding others toward a common goal.
 
— Transparency Inspired by Nature —
Natural processes are transparent; they operate openly for mutual benefit. Feminist leaders, by being transparent about their mission and resources, contribute to a culture of accountability and ethical leadership that extends beyond human interactions to include the broader ecological context.
 
— Zero Tolerance for Toxicity in Nature —
Toxic elements disrupt ecosystems. Feminist leadership, with its zero-tolerance for toxicity, mirrors the importance of creating healthy work environments. Just as ecosystems thrive without harmful substances, workplaces flourish when negativity is minimized. Leaders, by addressing toxicity in the workplace, align with this principle by creating spaces that support the well-being of individuals and contribute to a healthier overall ecosystem.
 
Nature is my pastor, therapist, teacher and friend. It is my hope, in all aspects of my life, to live more fully into what I continue to learn in about the created world and my kinship with the natural world – the whole world. By integrating nature-inspired concepts, leadership in any sphere, our work can benefit from a broader perspective, emphasizing the interconnectedness of humanity with the natural world. This holistic approach not only enriches leadership practices but also reinforces the idea that principles found in nature can guide us toward a more equitable and sustainable future.
I wonder how these principles might come to life in the work you do in the world?
Advent 1: Is Hope Toxic Positivity?

Advent 1: Is Hope Toxic Positivity?

I recently had the privilege of participating in a meeting with chaplains who are looking for ways to offer spiritual care, especially to people experiencing despair in a climate changed world. When talking about how to offer hope, thoughtful leaders a few decades younger than I shared that the current generation often experiences the word HOPE as something akin to toxic positivity. Toxic positivity refers to cultural expectations that we maintain a pseudo-optimistic outlook while denying truths about abuses of power, systematic oppression and intersectional injustice.

As one generally allergic to Pollyanna positivity, I whole heartedly agree that hope is toxic when it suppresses authentic feelings, discourages honest communication, oversimplifies complex issues and neutralizes engaged action.

Yes, and – I want to lift up how I experience hope. For me, hope is more than optimism or wishful thinking. And hope is anything but toxic positivity. Active hope is the seed of change.

I’ve experienced the power of active hope in my own life as a queer person of faith.

Once upon a time I had hope that I could live fully actualized in all spheres of my life, without having to choose between faith and authenticity.

When I came out and my “Christian” family walked away from me I began to sink into an abyss of despair. With a constant craving for a spiritual life, I had to rewild the domesticated faith of my childhood or sink into nihilistic numbness. I attended seminary to give my wobbly faith a set of tools to wrestle with experience, tradition and reason. I encountered progressive and liberation theologies and started blogging about the intersection of being queer and Christian in the American south. I connected with communities of faith where the fullness of my humanity was affirmed. I extracted myself from relationships that limited my thriving. I found the love of my life and moved to The Netherlands where my faith and life continue to evolve.

If I’d lingered too long in (valid) despair, nothing would have changed for me. Hope moved me into action. Active hope is the seed of change.

Joanna Macy wrote in Active Hope, “Active Hope is not wishful thinking. Active Hope is not waiting to be rescued by the Lone Ranger or by some savior. Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world. The web of life is calling us forth at this time. We’ve come a long way and are here to play our part. With Active Hope we realize that there are adventures in store, strengths to discover, and comrades to link arms with.”

As I understand it, Active hope:

  • is a verb that acknowledges the painful truth about a current situation. “I understand the difficulties we’re facing, and I believe we can find a way through.”
  • honors a range of emotions, including so-called negative feelings. “It’s okay to feel upset about this. Let’s work through it together and find a way forward.”
  • inspires proactive behavior and problem-solving while maintaining a growth mindset. “We can overcome this by working together. What steps can we take to improve the situation?”
  • balances optimism with a realistic understanding of the situation. “Despite the challenges, I truly believe in our ability to make things better.” 

Empty, toxic hope in the face of climate change might look like:

  • denying the severity of environmental degradation,
  • invalidating deep grief for the state of the world,
  • passively waiting for things to get better on their own.
  • and inducing shame for feeling bereft, angry and powerless. 

For me, active hope is intertwined with the belief that change is relational and it requires partnering with the Divine (however we may understand Her). So, with the hope that we humans will change how we treat our common home, the earth, I set myself on the path to learning how I can invite people into renewed relationship with the sacred in and through the natural world.

Maybe, just maybe, if people slow down and spend intentional, sacred time in nature, we can remember that we are part of, not apart from, the web of life. Maybe remembering our kinship with the more-than-human world will sew the seeds of love. Maybe that love will take root and change how we behave toward our kin.

Not just if we recycle or not. Not just if we eat local, seasonal foods or not. Not just if we plant a tree or not. Not just if we step out of the consumerism cycle or not.

What if this rooted love compels us to hold our local politicians and business owners accountable for how they treat people and the planet? And then, what if we seriously challenge our governments who are bought and paid for by the corporations whose greed knows no end? What if, at the cost of our own comfort, we start dismantling the system that treats humans and nature as consumable resources for wealth accumulation?

Over the past few years I sought and earned certification as a nature therapy guide. I invested my time, heart, mind and money in changing my own life so I can offer myself to opening hearts and minds, one walk in the woods at a time.

In 2023 the change I hope for looked like offering a wild church experience to a Christian group in Florida, sharing forest bathing with faith leaders in Maine and co-hosting a spiritual rewilding retreat for LGBTQIA+ folx in the American south.

The powers and principalities of this world don’t want us to have hope, because if we are hopeless we don’t believe change is possible, we won’t even try, and nothing in fact changes. Hope is defiant in the face of despair.

Active hope lifts my ecological despair into action.

On this first Sunday of Advent, as the days grow shorter and the shadows of night come earlier, we kindle the first of four candles, a flicker of hope in the gathering darkness. Is this tiny light atop my individual candle merely an illusion that distracts me from malevolent forces or is it a spark that ignites action?

Theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer tells us that Mary’s Magnificat, her song awaiting the birth of a child she hoped would change the world is “the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary hymn ever sung. This song has none of the sweet, nostalgic, or even playful tones of some of our Christmas carols. It is instead a hard, strong, inexorable song about collapsing thrones and humbled lords of this world.”

The story of Advent is the story of active, radical hope. The hope of Advent is one that believes that the divine acts in and through the flesh of this world to overturn the dominant paradigm to bring all beings into right relationship with self, others and the Ground of Our Being.

Hope is defiant. Hope is power.

So with a wild faith I still light the first candle of Advent with hope that my tiny flicker lights another candle, and that candle lights more candles and one day, probably well after my wee flame has winked out, the whole world is shining with with interdependent thriving.

Leidse Hout Nature Connection

Leidse Hout Nature Connection

We gather the first Sunday of each month to share in a gentle, peaceful walk to connect with the natural world, of which we are a part. We gather outside in parks and forests to re-connect with one another and our nature kin.

Our guides are the flora and fauna of South Holland, the lindens and pines, the wild geese and the sweet songbirds, the green mosses and the grey stones, and of course, each other.

Wildwood Wisdom honors all sacred traditions – everyone, everyone, everyone is welcome. We recognize sacredness in all of creation – human and the more than human world. These Sundays offer a step out of ordinary time for connection, mindfulness, lament and joy, saunters and sit-spots, wandering and wondering, shared readings and opportunities for engagement.

Please bring a light chair, ground-friendly cushion or a blanket to sit on. During our cold months, also bring yourself a warm beverage and whatever else you may need to be comfortable in the outdoors. You can also grab a coffee or tea at the teahouse. Hats and mittens are encouraged 🙂

Light nibbles will be provided.

We will meet in front of the teahouse so you can grab a coffee or tea before we begin.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

 

Mindful Monday in Nature

Mindful Monday in Nature

Give yourself the gift of slowing down. Join certified nature therapy guide Kimberly in the lovely Leidse Hout for a mid-day mindfulness walk to connect more deeply with nature through a gentle, contemplative walk inspired by forest bathing. 

A good portion of our time together will be in silence. This offers you the opportunity to experience the forest and to connect with others who want to experience nature fully and deeply. By choosing to stay away from friendly chit-chat and explore what it’s like to walk in nature without speaking, we have a chance to engage our senses more fully and to truly connect with the natural world.

• Be Prepared

Dress comfortably for walking on natural terrains in chilly weather. Bring a water bottle, but little else so you are unencumbered for your walk. Participants will be asked to silence and pocket their phones, so let folks know you will be unavailable for a couple of hours.

All participants of Wildwood Wisdom activities are personally responsible for their own fitness, safety and welfare and must be equipped accordingly.

• Meeting Place

The Leidse Hout Tea House

• Meeting Time

We will begin walking at 12:00 sharp and we finish around 13:00.

In the event of cancellation due to severe weather, participants will be notified by 7 a.m. the day of the event.

——-

Did you know that in 2018 the National Health Service of Scotland started prescribing “birdwatching, rambling and beach walks in the Atlantic winds to help treat chronic and debilitating illnesses for the first time.”

“Forest bathing” originates from a Japanese practice called shinrin-yoku, which means “taking in the forest.” This will be a slow paced, mindful time spent in the woods and an opportunity to reconnect with the natural world.