Worshipping God in the beauty of the outdoors

Posted on August 3, 2010

 by Justin R Cannon


“Thou rushing wind that art so strong.
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,

O praise Him! Alleluia!”

(Excerpt from All Creatures of Our God and King)

On Saturday, July 31, the rushing wind and sailing clouds were not alone in praising God. More than thirty people gathered in the morning mist at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve for a liturgical hike. This hike and outdoor celebration of the Holy Eucharist marked the beginning of a new ministry established here in the Diocese of California called Worship in the Wilderness. This is a sister ministry of an ongoing ministry in Santa Fe, New Mexico, led by The Rev. Jon Anderson.

Nature has always been a sacred place for me. There are two places where I consistently feel closest to God: in the mystical journey of the Holy Eucharist, and in the beauty of the outdoors. Over the years I have come to learn of many others who also feel the closeness of the Creator in the wilderness. Nature mystics like John Muir, Thomas Merton, St. Francis of Assisi, and even St. Paul all testify to our interconnectedness with all Creation. Worship in the Wilderness was established to honor that connection, and to bring together those outdoor experiences and the experience of the Eucharist. A liturgical hike is most simply the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the context of a wilderness hike, but it becomes so much more.

St. Paul writes, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revelation of the children of God.” This ministry is a response to creation’s longing. We gather not to ‘use’ or simply ‘care for’ the earth, but to recognize our communion with all of life. It is in recognizing this interconnectedness that we can move forward in fully serving the Creator. Worship in the Wilderness meets monthly at different nature areas throughout the Bay Area. For more information or to sign up on the email list visit www.witw.info .