Creation is of the order of love. God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things. (Pope Francis, ‘Laudato Si’, 2015, n.77)
With the rise of the industrial world, over the last couple of centuries, more and more men and women have become urbanised and as result more disconnected from Nature. We have come to see ourselves as the masters of Nature, with the Earth being an object for us to use to make our lives more comfortable. In this process, we have lost our connection with God’s presence in the Universe. Pope Francis, in his encyclical Laudato Si: On care for Our Common Home, invites us to reunite with God in the Earth, in the whole universe. In this ministry, Being with God in Nature, we provide a variety of opportunities for people to spend time in a group, at times in silence, listening to God’s presence in Nature. We will do this by taking people out into the Australian wilderness as well as experiencing Nature in our urban settings.
The entire material Universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains; everything is, as it were, a caress of God. (Pope Francis, ‘Laudato Si’, 2015, n.84).
To download a copy of the Being in God with Nature 2019 Program, click here
Reflection by Meity Chen from Walking with God in Nature in Mt Macedon – March 2017
Walking in nature is one of my favourite activities that helps me to de-stress and rejuvenate from daily busyness. I had heard of the Walking with God in Nature ministry at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality, but I never really made the effort to register. Early this year, I received the regular email from Campion CIS and as I browsed through retreat programs I stopped at the Walking with God in Nature program. I told myself to register for it and I did. I registered for the Mt Macedon walk because it’s on Saturday and I was off from work.
On the day, I was anxious if I had enough physical strength to walk all tracks for I had not made a trek for five months. Before we started, we had a short briefing about the safety precautions and a prayerful introduction to assist our spiritual disposition for the day. I had brought with me a feeling of uncertainty as my spiritual life has been unstable and I was unsure of its direction. As we started walking, I kept focusing on the pathway and any danger that could possibly happen along the way. Slowly, my physical body began feeling sore and tired and my mind was still filled with caution. Half way through the trek, I managed to keep pace with others and my thoughts settled. I slowly listen up my head to see beautiful tall trees around me; I could smell different types of woods; I saw a glimpse of light passing through the trees; I heard birds chirping away; I felt the humidity of the air on my skin; I breathed in and out the fresh air and I could hear my heartbeat synchronise with my steps. I started to walk with confidence and became less worried about my surroundings. I enjoyed the up and down of the track and passing through bushes. I treasured the little flicker of sunlight that passed through leaves to the ground.
I am a person who worries so much about unnecessary things. This one day of walking in nature had helped me to live in the moment and treasure the little things in life. To find God in every step I take and recognise His love for me. For God is an active and living God who continue to be present in our lives. The question is, do we take time to stop and acknowledge His presence?
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”
– Meity Chen
Reflection by Jo Russell from Walking with God in Nature in Mt Macedon – March 2017
Walking amongst the tall trees of Mt Macedon
As we gathered at McGregor’s car park clouds hung over the mountains and the air was cool and misty. Nunzio, our spiritual guide, reminded us we’d be walking in silence and how silence would help us to be more attuned to what we would experience through our senses, and also how we could interact with God. He hoped it would be a transforming experience for all of us.
There was a brief check-in, a sharing of names and what drew us to the walk – our hopes and intentions. We were mostly strangers to each other but I felt a sense of community from the shared stories. I was glad to be a part of this group.
Michael, our practical guide, who’d planned and designed the walk, explained the nuts and bolts of the walk. He would be our leader and his wife Jan would be the whip!
Before we set out, Nunzio asked us to close our eyes and he prayed that we would be touched by silence so that we could more fully experience the wonder of God’s creation. He read a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver – words to take with us into the morning walk.
As we walked in single file, away from the open car park, we soon became enveloped in the forest of tall, silent trees. The ground was damp from the rain and the fallen leaves soft underfoot. It was quiet. Birdsong occasionally interrupted our thoughts.
I had the picture of Mary Oliver’s grasshopper in my mind. It seemed to tell me that God’s simple creatures can teach me how to focus on the moment, on what I’m seeing and feeling right now. If I can do that I can make space for God in the open moment that is now!
As I walked in silence I began to notice small things, the immensely long straps of bark that had fallen from these giants, the colours of the moss and lichen on the trees and rocks. When I looked up I felt dizzy at the height of the beautiful trees reaching way up to burst out of the canopy.
Later in the walk, I heard the distant hum of the motor race but that soon faded and I settled into the silence again. It wasn’t just a walk in the forest though! Sometimes it was a real challenge to keep going up, up and up the slow steady climbs and especially the steep climb up to the Camel’s Hump. Would I make it? One step at a time, stop for a rest, but ah the satisfaction when I made it to the top!
We began the walk with a circle, with a prayer and we ended the day with a circle. Nunzio read a beautiful prayer on the richness and the gift of silence. It’s like an invitation from our God to each of us to be still. To let go and just be.
As we had in the beginning we shared our feelings. What had we noticed? What touched us? Moved us? And what will we take away? I felt an affinity with the group and a great sense of gratitude.
Thank you Helen for your loving care and support, Michael and Jan for your wise guidance and careful planning, and Nunzio for your gentle leadership and wonderful spiritual input, and to the whole group for your warm, supportive presence.
– Jo Russellhttp://www.campion.asn.au/weekday-themed-retreats-2018/