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“Wild Space” Wednesdays: Sojourner’s outdoor sanctum

Whilst yet a child, [Sojourner] listened to a story of a wounded soldier, left alone in the trail of a flying army, helpless and starving, who hardened the very ground about him with kneeling in his supplications to God for relief, until it arrived.  From this narrative, she was deeply impressed with the idea, that if she also were to present her petitions under the open canopy of heaven, speaking very loud, she should the more readily be heard; consequently, she sought a fitting spot for this, her rural sanctuary.  The place she selected, in which to offer up her daily orisons, was a small island in a small stream, covered with large willow shrubbery, beneath which the sheep had made their pleasant winding paths; and sheltering themselves from the scorching rays of noon-tide sun, luxuriated in the cool shadows of the graceful willows, as they listened to the tiny falls of the silver waters.  It was a lonely spot, and chosen by her for its beauty, its retirement, and because she thought that there, in the noise of those waters, she could speak louder to God, without being overheard by any who might pass that way. When she had made choice of her sanctum, at a point of the island where the stream met, after having been separated, she improved by pulling away the branches of the shrubs from the centre, and weaving them together for a wall on the outside, forming a circular arched alcove, made entirely of graceful willow.  To this place she resorted daily, and in pressing time much more frequently.

From The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, 1850, by O. Gilbert

Excerpt in Sacred Journeys, J. Richardson, 1995

“Wild Space” Wednesdays : Reflections on Marching and Why Wild Space?

Today, I’m instituting a new rhythm post for Wednesdays called, “Wild Space.”  I’m borrowing and improvising with this concept I recently discovered from Dr. Sallie McFague, Eco-Feminist, who, two plus decades ago, began a systematic revisioning of her own theology of God, Humanity, Salvation, the Church…Creation.  She suggests the church has lagged behind in waking up to the reality of climate change and the gnarly, challenges of  the addiction of consumerism that feeds the damage being done to the planet.

I’m inspired by the concept of wild space because it’s roomy for interpretation and improvisation.  Here’s a little more about the context. In her recent writings, McFague presents a path for “ecological praxis of incarnational compassion in action.”  Fancy words, I know, but words I find visionary and inspiring, rooting progressive, creation-based, theological reflection with action. Yes!  One of the steps on this path is voluntary poverty.  In her brilliant, honest manner, she writes of this spiritual practice as a part of a kenotic spirituality, a practice based in self-emptying.  She presents profiles of luminaries like Dorothy Day, Saint Francis, John Woolman, folks who show us what it looks like.  It seems strident initially, but she’s not proposing we become saints and give up everything we own. She is suggesting, however, we avail ourselves to the wild space of self-restraint in our consumption.  She is suggesting we (folks of the middle class, folks with means) do everything we can to leverage our influence on social justice policy…this of course includes climate.

Wild space for Dr. McFague, refers to

A window of opportunity to see a different vision of the good life, [one that is broad and inclusive].  Being a Christian means having a wild space.  This different vision is counter-cultural.  It is based in the radical, generous, abundant love of God and God’s desire for abundant life for all [creation].”

I’m with her…and her…and her

The Womxn’s March experience was a wild space territory for me.  It was a march about abundant life for all, for sure.  Taking action in this way with my body, showing up for myself…walking on behalf of all my women cousins and loved ones in small towns across this country who wouldn’t dare step forward to march, walking on behalf of the Chowan River and Puget Sound, I feel in deep alignment.

and with her…and her…and her