_In The Wild Places, Robert MacFarlane explores a variety of landscapes in the British Isles, with an understanding of "wild place" that enlarges from "somewhere remote, historyless, unmarked" to include another kind of wildness, "the wildness of natural life, the sheer force of ongoing organic experience, vigorous and chaotic. This wildness was not about asperity, but about luxuriance, vitality, fun." It's a wildness that he encounters in the city fringe as well as in high remote mountains.
At one point he muses on the inner maps we carry, the record of our own encounters with creation, the landscapes small or large that have given us "happiness, and the emotions that go by the collective noun of 'happiness': hope, joy, wonder, grace, tranquility and others."
_"Every day, millions of people found themselves deepened and dignified by their encounters with particular places. Most of these places, however, were not marked as special on any map. But they became special by personal acquaintance. A bend in a river, the junction of four fields, a climbing tree, a stretch of old hedgerow or a fragment of woodland glimpsed from a road regularly driven along -- these might be enough."
"Or fleeting experiences, transitory, but still site-specific: a sparrowhawk sculling low over a garden or street, or the fall of evening light on a stone, or a pigeon feather caught on a strand of spider's silk, and twirling in mid-air like a magic trick. Daily, people were brought to sudden states of awe by encounters such as these: encounters whose power to move us was beyond expression but also beyond denial." Macfarlane, p 236.
At Faith House Fellowship last night, we combined this idea of inner maps of special places with Celtic Christianity's perception of the gift of creation as essentially a self-giving of God,a "showing" that reveals something of the One who is the essence of life. We shared memories of some of the places that have provided moments of encounter, awe, and happiness for us.
Some of us looked back to beloved childhood spots, others to our current maps, or to bright memories from this past year. These are good memories to bring back from time to time, to finger like prayer beads. I've scattered some of my memories from the past year through this entry -- what is on your inner map?
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.