Renewal in the Wilderness

"Probing and provocative....
[This book] enjoins us to remember our primal sacred beginnings with clear grace and compelling reasons. Lionberger has an encompassing reach, giving voice to atheists, agnostics and the simply soul-weary, as well as believers from many of the world's great faith traditions."

~ Publishers Weekly


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"Reading this book made my fingers tingle and the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. The physical experience of wilderness strips us down to the basic elements of body and soul. And when our spiritual nerve endings are exposed, we find...God. Start this journey today."

~ Reverend Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, professor and
former president,
Chicago Theological Seminary


"On mornings when I need a quick retreat I pull your book into my devotional/journaling time. Your stories make me feel like I’m on an adventure with God. Even reading three or four pages brings a lift and clarity for the day.

~ Diane Overgard


"If you've been wondering how to find God, here's a topo map."

~ Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature" and other books


"I'm in the second chapter of your book. It is touching my soul. Finding you at this time was NOT a meaningless coincidence."

~ Lee Anderson


"Many times this book touched me deeply—thank you for sharing your wisdom and experience in the wilderness. You opened a door that I had been seeking for a long time. Bless you! It was such a gift to let go of my expectations for God and just let God meet me on God's terms. Perhaps now my soul can be nourished again."

~ Reverend Jenny Badenhop


"BUY THE BOOK. Read it, sign up for one of John's trips. Whether you're a committed agnostic or an evangelical Christian, I can't think of a better investment of your time or money than this book and the outdoor spiritual adventures it describes. These are life-changing experiences."

~ Jeff Nixa

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The Book

Renewal in the Wilderness

Renewal in the Wilderness: A Spiritual Guide to Connecting with God in the Natural World

By John Lionberger
6 x 9, 224 pp (est), Quality Paperback Original
SkyLight Paths Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1-59473-219-5; ISBN-10: 1-59473-219-1

"This book is about why it's worth it to leave our comforts for a short while, to be in the wilderness and away from the busy-ness of normal living, to return to the slower rhythm of nature and the tranquility it brings."

"It's about experiencing yourself and your world in a different way, more like you were as a child when everything around you was a surprise and electric with excitement and wonder. It's about finding a personal, heart-based relationship with God whether you believe in God or are trying to, or in Something Bigger Than You Are if you don't. Even atheists have experiences they describe as 'spiritual' when they are in wild places."

~ excerpts from Renewal in the Wilderness: A Spiritual Guide to Connecting to God in the Natural World

From the Publisher's Catalog

SkyLight Paths Publishing

Encountering the Divine in God’s wild places can be a life-changing experience.
There is an ancient and deeply compelling biblical tradition of going into the wilderness to find God. Moses and Jesus—to name just a couple of our spiritual forebears—knew that in the wilderness they would find the quiet and simplicity that would lead to profound spiritual connections. They understood that normal day-to-day living is usually not the way to regain that connection with God, because it affords little opportunity to simply, humbly and quietly listen for God’s voice and feel God’s presence. Perhaps even in our time—especially in our time—leaving civilization to spend time with God in the wilderness holds an important key to our own spiritual renewal.

Alaska sea kayak trip

This practical guide illuminates the power of finding God in the wilderness experience and the universality of spiritual connection through nature. It explores the teachings about wilderness in sacred writings both ancient and contemporary and how we can grow through the shared and individual experiences of being present in nature.

Lionberger draws from his own significant moments in the wilderness and stories from the many people who have accompanied him on wilderness treks. He explores the meaning of “wilderness” in our modern society and offers thoughtful suggestions about how to find the Divine in our personal experiences.





John Lionberger, MDiv, is founder of Renewal in the Wilderness, an interfaith wilderness ministry, and is head chaplain at Three Crowns Park, a unique retirement community in Evanston, Illinois. He is certified by the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and in Wilderness First Responder first aid by the Wilderness Medical Associates. John also served on Outward Bound's Board of Trustees, as well as their wilderness board, for six years.


Excerpts are from Renewal in the Wilderness: A Spiritual Guide to Connecting with God in the Natural World 2007 by John Lionberger (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing). Permission granted by SkyLight Paths Publishing, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock,VT 05091

wildlife wilderness trips

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