By Mindy Braun
When a fellow spiritual director told me about a book she was reading, my life and heart opened up in a new and exhilarating way. I began reading Church of the Wild by Victoria Loorz. It’s her story of being a spiritual director and pastor, longing for something beyond her experience of church. When she writes, “I longed for church to be a place where Mystery is experienced not explained…” I heard my own heart echoed.
After telling others in the Journey Center community about wild church and seeing there was a resonating “YES!” in people’s hearts, Wild Journey was born in December 2022! This is the description you will find on our webpage:
Wild Journey is an emerging community of those who are returning to nature as spiritual practice. We are Christ-centered AND welcoming to all spiritual paths. We are not led by doctrine or dogma, but by the Divine Mystery that dwells in us all. We meet outside in various locations within the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed and seek to reconnect with the sacredness of earth, honoring the Divine Presence in all beings.
Our gatherings offer opportunities for contemplation, grief and praise, movement and song, solo wandering and wondering, advocacy, ecological restoration, and activism on behalf and in collaboration with the beloved others in our watershed. Children are welcome to participate or play nearby. All are welcome.
We meet once a month within the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed; usually the first or third Sunday of the month. Wild Journey is an expression of Journey Center Santa Rosa and is a part of .
There are four movements within our time together:
· Gathering & Grounding – Welcome, Invocation of the watershed, introductions and gratitude, 7-direction prayer
· Reading & Reflection – Reflections on the season we are in and poems to ponder
· Wandering & Wondering, - 30 minutes to wander and listen to nature speak
· Sharing & Sending – return to the circle to witness how the Spirit moved in each other and then a closing song to send us out
“Popping up all over the land, like wild mushrooms after a spring rain, Wild Church communities are responding to a call from deep within to change the way we relate to the natural world, moving ‘from a collection of objects, to a communion of subjects’ – Thomas Berry
In this age of mass extinctions, we feel compelled by the love of Christ to invite people into intimate relationship with some of the most vulnerable victims of our destructive culture: the land, waters, and creatures with whom we share our homes.
New Wild Churches are emerging all the time, offering invitations to reconnect with the natural world. As kin. As sacred. As beloved co-participants in a larger story of grace and inter-being.
Mindy Braun is the Executive Director of Journey Center Santa Rosa. She graduated with the 2021 Cohort of the Journey Center Association’s Spiritual Director Formation Program. Her passion is to create safe, sacred spaces for all people to experience love and belonging.