“Whether at a young age marveling alongside my sister at the swath of a clear cut forest for a power line in the forest, or remembering walking deep, deep into the state forest simply to make a decision regarding where I ultimately should go to college…the woods, the mountains, the trees, the animals, the plants, all have always been there as that serene, if not sacred backdrop. The natural world – especially the “secret” places within the forest where I would go to be alone and just think and marvel, those places were nearly magical. Today still, I see sights within the woods, or within deep forests that stun me and spur lines of insight.”
The above passage comes from an interview on the site Speculum Criticum Traditionis with philosopher Leon Niemoczynski. Leon is one of my favorite contemporary process-relational thinkers and, on top of that, he lives in the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania where I spent much of my adolescence and young adulthood.
I resonate quite a bit with what Leon is talking about above. For me too the natural world I grew up in has always been a “nearly magical” place. I’m grateful that, as a child, I had the opportunity to grow up in a pretty rural area and that I was able to explore the woods and listen to the trees talk and feel the wind kiss my face.
I really do attribute much of my inclination toward religious naturalism to being exposed to “nature” at an early age. Interestingly, I also read a Washington Post article recently that claims similar things; nature may in fact have a profound effect on our religiosity.