Subscribe to Harriet's Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4 other subscribers

Urban Quest Field Note #33: Relational seed beds for questing in urban areas

Harriet:  When I think about urban questing, I link it with continued pursuit of the TRUE Self, or native self, which is soul.  I understand it as a tool, a way for people to leverage a threshold into another way of being.  I’m imagining there are lots of ways people can practice ‘questing’ at home in their neighborhood.  This is my curiosity edge. It’s not that I’m not open to having a traditional, formal quest experience, but at the moment I’m curious…I feel like I’m already on quest…

Krystyna:   We all are.  As we say at the end of quest, ‘Okay, now you’ve completed a quest, now you are returning to the quest [of life].  Your curiosity, calling on the ‘structure,’ ‘architecture,’ or ‘ecology,’ into your awareness, your body based practices like InterPlay, all those you have already been reading, Campbell, Estes, they have entered your vocabulary and are supporting you to realize the nature of questing.  Curiosity is an expression of questing…Questioning…as questing. 

2/8/16 – Original Draft

 Krystyna J. eventually became a formal quest quide for me in late winter 2015.

Urban Quest Practice:  Know where you are.  Know who’s with you.  BE where you are.

Krystyna and Madeline, 2015

Cynthia Winton-Henry, 2015, Hidden Monastery

 

Writing field notes: A spiritual practice of connection

It’s been a couple of years now since I set out to explore and cultivate a deepened connection with the natural world right outside my door. Like many, I live in an urban setting with ample amounts of cement and asphalt, but I was not to be deterred.  I wanted to know the names of the trees and plants in my yard.  I wanted to know the names of the winged ones coming to the bird feeder, the ones hanging out in the nearby city park as well.  This desire for deepened connection sprang from an evolving, awakening of spirit, and a discovery of new capacity to wonder and to pay closer attention to what’s happening around me, especially in the natural world.  It also emerged as I became more conscious and curious of what interdependence meant on a day by day basis.  To realize that my place in the interdependent web of life is actually NOT at the center after all, I am being reoriented to place and to growing relational capacity to be able to receive freely extended revelations offered by the living beings around me.

Today, I confidently identify a fair number of birds and water fowl by name.  Coots and Cormorants, Mergansers and Wigeons, Shovelers and Mallards, Ring-billed and Mew gulls, and those Northern Shovelers, recent arrivals.  Juncos, Chickadees, Finches and Sparrows of various stripes, Wrens and Towhees, Robins and Cedar Waxwings. Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks.  Yes!  The sighting, the naming delights me endlessly!

This practice of cultivating connection with the living beings in my yard and neighborhood takes expression as a spiritual practice I refer to now as urban questing.  Urban questing is about knowing where you are, knowing who’s with you, and being where you are. Seeking to explore and build connection, I’m practicing placing myself out there in the field of my yard, in the field of the local park, by the fields of waters, listening, receiving, because I know I must now.  I am a part of the interdependent web of life and I have so much to learn yet about being in relation this way.

Identifying, naming birds, can be a first incremental step of connecting, discovering one’s place in the larger scheme of things.  What I’ve noticed in placing myself outside time and again, is that I’m beginning to really care.  Yes, you heard me say it.  I CARE about the beings in a way I never cared before.  I care about their habitat.  I care about the conditions impacting them.

So there are natural consequences for practices like this, some intended, some discovered.  I am finding welcomed, new capacities to see, to hear both in the outer fields, but also within. I’m becoming more finely tuned to the pace of the places I enter.  The places are requiring me to slow down. I’ve also noticed that as my care is deepening, I’m challenged to look more clearly and soberly at the impact of my way of life on the environment.

There are consequences to practicing connection.  If you care enough to make connection, you eventually will face a disorientation that comes when you become aware of how your actions are directly impacting the wellbeing of the larger web.  Eventually, there will be a necessary review and reorientation that reflects a deepened re-alignment of your behavior with this new consciousness.  It will be too uncomfortable NOT to realign yourself, otherwise, the connection is doomed.