What is Right Outside our Homes

“I ultimately believe that, collectively, we would be better off recognizing our spiritual connection to what is right outside our homes; it can be found in the growing forests and racing water. If we recognized our link to the brook trout’s life, would we be as willing to make changes that affect the quality of the water, and push it further upstream into the dark corners of the creek?

It is valuable to have tangible access to this link, and craft is a fantastic way to become more connected with your immediate environment. It could be found in working with birch, if you are in Maine or Sweden, or wild cherry in Pennsylvania, or Huon pine in Tasmania. If a project needs glue, that can be made with pitch or boiled hide; if it requires cordage, it can be made with dogbane or nettle. Resources are abundant. My point is, recognizing the relationship and the reciprocity with the land is what is important. Being connected to the Earth is important – I dare say, it’s what is missing. What if we were to look upon the things we make as the manifestations of a spiritual connection to the world around us? The methodical decision-making of a timber framer; the slow meditation of cutting a mortise and tenon from local green wood can be as much a part of spiritual living as the ethereal concepts of enlightenment and discipleship. Thinking of my great-grandchildren as possible inhabitants of a timber frame is a powerful testament to seeing connections in all things. Paying attention to how the trees are harvested, and how they impact the environment around the timber frame is equally important to this understanding of how to be in the world.”

– Amy Umbel, excerpt from “A Sense of Place” in Issue Eight, available here.


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