Wildness Is Not Our Enemy

Garden Fall 08-4A few years ago, Chuck had given me a book by Gerald May called The Healing Wisdom of Wilderness. I ran across it again this week because my daughter was looking for a memoir to read for a class at college on nonfiction writing. May was dying as he finished this book and it gives a lot of insight into the power of nature to heal us spiritually even if we can’t be healed physically.

May really believed that “wilderness” could be found anywhere, from a garden to a park to a wild area of nature. But he notes that our busy lives keep us from nature and its possibilities of healing and growth. There is a passage that really sticks out for me related to the problems that can occur from this, “Feeling so divorced from the nature within and around us, we make wildness an adversary that we must tame rather than learn from.” Nature as an adversary is key to a lot of nature television programs, unfortunately, such as the “Man against Wild” show (which is actually not as bad as its title — from the little I have seen of it, the star has to work with nature to survive, but the title reflects a more generalized attitude).

The world has its wildness. If you don’t understand nature and God’s place in it as the creator, that is, nature is God’s “property”, then wildness can be scary. That doesn’t have to mean being stranded on top of a wilderness mountain. That can mean being afraid of small critters, the bugs and such, that are all around us, and also part of our world. Understanding that this is all part of God’s creation helps make wildness a place of healing and peace rather than a scary place.

— Rob