Wonder in the wilderness

“In the Porcupine Mountains” photo by Julia Walsh FSPA

Over 25 years ago, I was a bruised and bug-bite-dotted scrawny girl, wonder-eyed and singing loudly in the middle of an Iowan prairie with a crowd circling a glowing fire. The day was dimming around us, crickets chirping through the tall blades of grass, the stars slowly becoming visible in the navy-blue night sky.

Then and there, sitting on a log, I encountered God. I felt God present in the beauty of evening, the energy of community, the rhythm and vibrations of our songs. The light of Christ seemed to pour from our hearts. Joy, peace and awe overwhelmed me. That night, I fell completely head-over-heels in love with God.

I was at EWALU in northeast Iowa, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bible camp not too far away from the farm I called home. I was singing loudly, proudly, enjoying the hand motions and dances right along with the songs. All the other young people around me seemed to be genuine in their prayers, authentic in their worship. I felt loved, accepted, secure; I wasn’t worried about whether I fit. I felt a sense of belonging and freedom. All this helped me sing and dance for God with gusto.

Yet I started to have questions, questions that became…  [This is the beginning of my latest column for the online newspaper, Global Sisters Report. Continue reading here.]

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  1. The guided path of communion with Nature is both powerful and prescient. We must get outside of our protected spaces and open up to the responsibilities we share with other living creatures and the environment. I love the story shared here that faith and connection to God is strengthened by Nature. I invite all living humans to embrace the idea of Nature as a living partner in our human partnership with God, Universe and Humanity. #rightsofnature #compassionalliance

  2. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. It really came alive and I was again mindful of my encounters with God on the shore of Trout Lake. I honestly do not have the stamina to do what you and your companions did, but I do understand the surprises that come with encounters with God through Nature and wilderness.