Role Models and Resources: Harvesting Nature’s Wisdom

Thankfully, role models and resources abound. Poets, painters, teachers, farmers, and community leaders continue to explore new and important ways to, as I might name it, live and pray in relationship to God and creation. We are inspired by people and movements like these because the values they represent are contagious. I am encouraged to see how quickly people from all over the world can identify even more examples of such innovation. While I cannot endorse each example from personal experience, I do respect the diversity of thought and practice they represent. These role models and resources were initially identified by participants at the 2017 Spiritual Directors International Conference in Toronto. There I led a workshop called Into the Woods: Harvesting Nature’s Wisdom for Listening and Leading.

I hope you will explore these ideas and find examples that are especially close to you, whether by location or conviction. Study the stories and let them inspire your own reflection about the role models and resources that help you harvest nature’s wisdom. Then take a moment to comment below or email so that we might keep expanding this list together. May we all become such role models and resources to others!

(references accessed 22 Apr 2017)

insect resting on a blossomArtists, Poets of Nature

A Portrait of Wendell Berry (

Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks (

Berry, Wendell. A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998.

Brueggemann, Walter. Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003.

cummings, e.e. “i thank You God for most this amazing” (

Hennen, Tom. Darkness Sticks to Everything: Collected and New Poems. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 1997.

Klimoski, Victor. A Month in Kilcar and Poems of Other Places. St. Paul: Prior Ave Press, 2013.

Kooser, Ted. Delights & Shadows. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2004.

Muir, John. A Wind-storm in the Forests. Carlisle, MA: Applewood Books, 2014.

Oliver, Mary. New and Selected Poems. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.

Stafford, William. Even in Quiet Places. Winchester, ID: Confluence Press, 2010.

Whyte, David. The House of Belonging. Langley, WA: Many Rivers Press, 1997.


Call of the Forest: The Forgotten Wisdom of Trees. (

Dewitt Jones (

The Man Who Planted Trees (

“Nature Watch” column in the Guardian Weekly (


Anderson, Lorraine. Sisters of the Earth: Women’s Prose and Poetry About Nature. New York: Vintage, 2003.

Chase, Steven. Nature As Spiritual PracticeCambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans, 2011.

Davis, Wade.  The Clouded Leopard: A Book of Travels. New York: Tauris Parke, 2007.

De Waal, Esther. The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

Farm Sanctuary (

Francis, Pope. Laudato si: On care for our common home. Our Sunday Visitor, 2015.

Godspace (

Haupt, Lyanda Lynn. Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

Haupt, Lyanda Lynn. The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild. New York: Back Bay Books, 2009.

Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2014.

Lane, Belden. Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Lane, Belden. The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. New York: Ballentine Books, 1949, 1966.

Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2008.

May, Gerald. The Wisdom of the Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature. New York: HarperOne, 2007.

Newell, J. Philip. Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2011.

Olson, Sigurd. Listening Point. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1958, 1986.

Orion Magazine: Nature, Culture, Place (

Rupp, Joyce and Barbara Loomis. Rest Your Dreams on a Little Twig. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2002.

Searles, Harold. The Nonhuman Environment: In Normal Development and Schizophrenia. Madison, CT: Intl Universities Press, 1960.

Young, Jon, Ellen Haas, and Evan McGown. Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. Santa Cruze: OWLink Media, 2010.


center stem of green plant with white stripesModel Organizations

Abbey of the Arts ( (

Bruce Trail Land Conservancy (

Center for Spirituality in Nature (

Eagle Bluff Nature Center (

Ecology and Spirituality Centre: Glenburn (

Everwood Farmstead (

Farminary at Princeton Theological Seminary (

Five Oaks Education and Retreat Center (

Fresh New London (

Anglican Church Canada, Fifth Mark of Mission (

Friends of Silence (

Genesis Farm (

Hollis Center (

Ignatius Jesuit Retreat Center (

Jericho House (

King’s Fold Retreat Centre (

Lorhill Farms (

Loretto Maryholme (

Mercy by the Sea (

Minnesota & Iowa Conservation Corps (

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (

Naramata Centre (

Parish Farming School (

Royal Botanical Gardens (

Shalem Institute (

Soul Fire Farm (

Ten Tree (

Toronto Environmental Alliance (

Trout Unlimited (

Villa St. Joseph Ecology and Spirituality Centre (

Wellington Water Watchers (

Wellspring Farm (

Wilderness Awareness School (

Wilderness Dance (

Other Role Models and Resources

Dan Siegel (

Paula D’Arcy (

Maureen Wild (

More from Samuel Rahberg . . .

Enduring Ministry: Toward a Lifetime of Christian Leadership. (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2017).

The Gospel of John in Poem and Image with Natalie Rahberg. (Saint Paul: Aetos Publications, 2016).

The Way Forward: A Collection of Benedictine Inspirations by Victor Klimoski, edited by Samuel Rahberg. (Saint Paul: Aetos Publications, 2014).

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