Wilderness will guide us.

 

Our relationship with wilderness is ever changing. We humans have not always traveled to wild places for the sake of renewal. But as long as there have been civilized places there have been those of us who have sought to leave them now and then for profound encounters in the wilderness.

“I believe that at least in the present phase of our civilization we have a profound, a fundamental need for areas of wilderness.” Howard Zahniser wrote this over sixty years ago as part of his advocacy for what would become the Wilderness Act of 1964. He articulated a multifaceted need for areas of wilderness, a need that meets at the intersections of recreation, education, ecological study, and spirituality. It remains true for us today. Wilderness is “essential to a true understanding of ourselves, our culture, our own natures, and our place in all nature.”

Along with this need for areas of wilderness we need insight into the wisdom of wilderness. We need space for the wilderness to impact our spirits. We need to make room for the wilderness to serve as a source of inspiration and sustenance. Direct encounter with wilderness can teach us courage and humanity. The wilderness can guide us to navigate life with compassion, so that our renewal in the wilderness will bolster our work of renewing the world.