Letter from Richard: Backyard Wilderness

Hello St. Paul’s and friends,

While I’ve been sick with COVID over the past week I’ve had more opportunities than usual to survey the canyon our rented home sits along. Ever since moving here, I’ve enjoyed the view of this place, and I often get to see hawks and all manner of birds, and occasionally the local coyotes who try so hard to stay out-of-sight. Having grown up in a true woodland wilderness, it has always been important for me that the places I get to live in or nearby have some aspect of natural beauty. San Diego fits the bill in a big way, as you can imagine.

One of my favorite things growing up was just going off to wander in the woods and explore. My dad made sure I took a compass and a knife, and often I would take a walking stick so I could poke at the wetland bogs to see if where I would step next was safe or not. Often our dog would accompany me. I’ll never forget the times I nearly stumbled into a large snapping turtle, who upon seeing me slipped straight into the water, or the time I nearly stepped on a beaver, who like the turtle slipped straightaway into murky depths. More stunning and rare still were the times I spotted a timber wolf and the flash of a bobcat in the brush, separately. The cutest were foxes, though, and their fluffy, playful kits. I never knew what I would see aside from the familiar contours of the paths I took, but depending on the time of year, it could be an entirely different world, as snow and ice created what seemed a whole new ecosystem.

Though I’ve been in an urban setting in South Park, this time of lying low while sick has allowed me to recapture some wonder in this—admittedly limited—backyard wilderness. Even if compressed compared to my origins, this smaller wilderness is still restorative, beautiful, and enlivening. As we approach MLK day and as I look over this mini wilderness that is so vivacious, I cannot help but remember this quote from the prophet Martin Luther King Jr.: “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

May the mutuality of it all be a blessing of beauty and life to each of us, and may we treat it as such.

See you Sunday,

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3 thoughts on “Letter from Richard: Backyard Wilderness”

  1. Being in your “backyard wilderness” seems to lessen or eliminate any worry and concern about the illness. I spend an extraordinary amount of time in my yard among the trees and copious plantings. This triggers the relaxation response which gets me through any stressful situation.
    Thank you for your letter.


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