Kindling Neighborly Connections between People and Nature.

Monday, June 17, 2019


Today for nature time (the 10-11am hour) I led the campers in an aquatic macroinvertebrate pollution tolerance index assessment; in short, we collected bugs from a creek along the Appalachian Trail, identified them, and filled out the pollution tolerance index score sheet to determine stream health. 

It was a great time for all. Most participated in the stream study and some engaged in other activities. One of them used a hand net in an attempt to catch a crayfish but instead caught a dragonfly nymph! Two of the young women at camp took the time to use their sketch pads creekside, and a few enjoyed walking the banks of the creek noting things like the green spiders who call that streamside niche home. 

The overarching theme for the week at Camp Penn is Peace: peace among people and peace between people and all that has life. The subheading for day two (today) is Community. If I’m talking about community the word communion comes to mind. 

Communion is about knowing and being known by another. This does not happen by accident.

And this was the main point of today’s walk on the AT and the streamside activities that followed.

The active counterpart to the word communion is the word “commune.” What does it mean? Let me share a real example from my life (and a rather obvious one if you’ve been keeping up to date with my posts).

I’ve read all sorts of books about birds and studied hundreds of bird vocalizations, but if I want to commune with birds and other wildlife I’ve got to go spend time in the forest. To commune is a very active endeavor. As good and beneficial as books, the internet, and social media are I can’t do it with a book, a computer or a cell phone.

Same deal with God; I can read the whole Bible and articulate the most balanced theology in the world, but if I really want to know God I’ve got to go and spend time with God in prayer and worship. I’ve go to take time to commune with God; to know God and be known by God. 

Yes to commune with another is to take time to be fully present with them; to know them and to be known by them.

If I desire to commune with God and with others I’ve got to spend time with God and my neighbors.

Let us expand the bounds we place on community, resolving to commune with God, with wildlife and wild spaces, and with the people around spend quality time with each for the sake of really knowing them and being known by them.

Communing with God and neighbor is always spiritually fulfilling because when we commune with our neighbor we will discover God in them and they will discover God in us as together we partner with God, building community in Jesus’ name.

And so, I encourage you to take even just an hour to commune with God and with your neighbors today both wild and domestic. 

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