Jan Grey reflects on a ‘Rewilding our Faith’ Away Day

The Carmelite Monastery at Thicket Priory in Thorganby was the perfect space for a day of reflecting on how we can ‘rewild our faith’ and make greater connections with our God-given natural world.

The Revd Jan Noble (Green Ambassador for the Diocese of York) and Julia MacDonald (until recently Director of St Bede's Pastoral Centre, York) hosted a day to inform, enable and empower our call to leave behind a period of self-destruction of God’s creation and actively seek ways for renewal.

Three sessions ignited our interest and commitment:

  • The ‘Call’ of our Times
    The church has got to change its model – maybe returning to the ancient Celtic way. We're invited to be change-makers, perhaps through a community Eco group to heal our world. Pope Francis' book, Laudato Si, calls us to care for our common home and reconnect with our earth and nature. The Chinese term for ‘crisis’ has two symbols – ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’, which is useful to frame our mindset when confronting the task ahead.
    The biggest gift for me this day was the term ‘The Great Turning’. Humans have moved from being hunter/gatherers to agricultural to industrial beings, Julia pointed out. But now, there is a movement from large-scale industrial to a self-sustaining society and from self-destruction to an enduring future harmony with the earth.
  • Environmental Connections in Christian Scripture
    Our focus must shift from being despondent and overwhelmed to seeing things in a new way. It’s a new adventure. What is God teaching us? Jan gave examples of resources for unearthing environmental themes and practices in the Christian tradition.
    Download a list of resources to inform your own 'rewilding' adventure

  • Practice of ‘Sacred Wandering’ (Praying with the ‘Book of Nature’)
    This was an introduction to the practice of sacred wandering and time to go out into the Priory grounds and try it for ourselves.
    We were invited to change our mindset, to approach the beauty of nature with reverence, and encounter its invisible embrace as a holy mystery. Our guide was Psalm 148 and Prof Jeremy Begbie's reflection called ‘Worshipping with all Creation’. One passage stood out for me - ‘our lives are made from those things we pay attention to.’ All were blessed as we wandered in wonder, being curious with a childlike awe, sauntering to a place and imagining we were invited in.

Gathering liturgy

Our day together ended with a collective celebration of the day and thanksgiving prayer for the Creation as a community of faith.

‘Rewilding our Faith’ was a timely reminder that we join Christ in His mission of safeguarding the integrity of creation, and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth (Fifth of the Five Marks of Mission).

Jan boldly stated a message for us all - "The Climate Crisis reveals a sinful rupture of relationships; with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. To heal this spiritual wound, we need to rediscover our creaturely limitations. Today we have practised, prayerfully, to take a humbler place within God's wild and wonderful creation. We are not ‘outside’ or ‘above’, but ‘part of’ the works of God."