Welcome to Woods Walking, where we explore the mysteries of Humanity, Spirit and God. Through this blog, I share my personal journey in spirituality and the immediate, human experience of our personal sentient self within our natural world. It is an experience, a journey, that ultimately connects us through quiet listening to the Greater Glory of Being.
We will follow the path of my recent awakening to the meaning of spiritual experiences that I had earlier in my life. I will describe the intimate process of understanding the personal meaning behind these significant spiritual experiences; one at a very young age1, and another while in college2.
This is also an exploration of our shared human spiritual capacity in relation to what has traditionally been known as the Supreme Being3 through simple prayer, contemplation, mystical encounter, and even near-death experiences. We will look at the common roots of such encounters, regardless of one’s religious or spiritual tradition.
The Word of God is simple, and seeks out as its companion a heart that listens. … Neither the clergy nor ecclesiastical law can substitute for the inner life of the human person. — Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini
Posting under the blog title “Woods Walking,” I will start with the everyday immediate experience of nature and beauty and look behind the curtains of deepening levels of understanding to arrive at accessible, useful and real meaning.
And in the face of today’s expansive cosmology, astrophysics and particle physics, we will explore the intersection of science and spirituality. As human understanding reaches beyond the limits of our known universe, we’ll expand our vision within this emerging, new Copernican moment in history and open ourselves to a newly perceived relationship with the Supreme Being and how humanity’s relationship to God may be seen in a new light.
It is a vision where a radically connected empirical reality encounters similar concepts of fundamental unity as expressed by human traditions for thousands of years in theology, mysticism and metaphysics.
With my personal background as a Roman Catholic, I will refer to the Supreme Being as God. As a Catholic, I embrace other historical spiritual traditions, since, as a human family, we share a common innate spiritual capacity and our literal, traceable roots in nature–in Being.
The “mission” of this blog is not one of conversion. Rather it is one of ecumenism, an ecumenism inspired by deep spiritual encounter and the profound unity found there in the roots of our very being. It is a oneness based on our shared source in nature, in the substance of being, as well as the latent spiritual capacity in all men and women that is so easily overlooked in our daily lives.
In that way, Woods Walking is a call back to our inner selves and our true, natural capacity for quiet spiritual encounter. Spirituality has been overlooked as so many have revolted against the surface trappings of dogma, injustice or the inflexible nature of existing religious institutions. Meanwhile, many institutions have hidden the empowering aspects of spirituality in the deep recesses of monasticism–deliberate or not. This separation from our inner selves creates a shepard/sheep duality that serves the institution and veils the individual from their own true capacity for encounter, an encounter that leads to an authentic individual life within community.
It is important to note that this blog should not become a wedge between one’s own faith traditions and an awakened presence to spirit. Rather, it should enrich any one tradition, much as the earliest spiritual encounters of humanity inspired establishment of religions. Just as important, the diversity of religious expression should not serve to invalidate any one tradition. Diversity of religious expression is reflected in nature itself through the awe-inspiring differentiation among genus and species.
“I love you my brother whoever you are whether you worship in your Church, kneel in your Temple, or pray in your Mosque. You and I are all children of one faith, for the diverse paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand of one Supreme Being, a hand extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, eager to receive all.”
Meanwhile, it is far too easy to allow the “noise” of our five physical senses to drown out our personal, quiet spiritual sense, whether seen as a receptive intuition or even as a communicative capacity for a transcendent encounter. The busy-ness of work, the noise of media and and the absorption of family and social activity offer easy distraction from the quiet of the inner self.
Woods Walking listens for that spiritual breeze through the synapses of our mind and our soul. This blog starts at the personal roots of such experience, that seed of deeper personal awareness.
How might your seed grow?
I have titled each entry “Woods Walking,” as they are inspired, in part, by the immediate observations of nature encountered during my nightly walks, originally with my now-deceased Irish Setter, “Trevor.” In these entries I explore the synthesis of the immediate, sentient and real that is present before us and directly accessible–via empirical, even scientific analysis, with the experiential tradition of spiritual encounter and revelation, i.e., faith and religion. I explore the encountered unity between these often dialectically opposed camps. From time-to-time, I will use philosophical tools of exposition that have evolved over the centuries.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
~ Henry David Thoreau
I dedicate this blog to my parents who served as a constant example of faith through their living, intimate awareness of a real spiritual presence. Based on their faith-life example, I was called at an early age — while fidgeting during Sunday mass at about 7 or 8 years old — to follow their path. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned–experienced–in a very personal, intuitive way that there is an intimate, Spiritual Presence that is myself in relationship with Someone that is loving and available when sought out.
I have made myself open to our sixth spiritual sense that, at times, has made itself present to me, sometimes quietly, and sometimes in an overwhelming rush of sensibility–at times in waking moments and at others while asleep. I have also found that spirituality is not necessarily an immediately present sense like those of touch or taste, but rather it is something that develops, much like one’s sexual self — a latent force that gradually develops in proportion to the amount of attention one permits.
Personal spirituality is also a discipline, much like playing music or mastering a new language or playing a sport. Like these other disciplines, one can be graced with a natural disposition for such a sense. I know by my own experience that I am blessed to be among those with such an innate disposition.
Again, welcome, and I look forward to sharing our mutual experiences of spirit, faith and humanity in relation to God and our real, intimate communication. God Bless! Rudy
Copyright © 2010 Rudolph Siegel
1 Woods Walking #10: The First Encounter http://wp.me/p11gpL-1l
2 Woods Walking #9: Three Nights of Affirmation http://wp.me/p11gpL-15
3 Brother David Steindl-Rast on our relationship to God: http://youtu.be/5H3ZuwUR5Aw?t=5m58s
A footnote on January 8, 2013: Recently I came across references to Fr. Thomas Keating, a leader in the Centering Prayer movement and founder of the ecumenically important Snowmass Inter-Religious Conferences. Below is a link to a video featuring Fr. Keating discussing “Oneness” and addressing a broad range of ways in which we encounter God in our lives and through contemplation. I have found this video very affirming of my own experiences recounted here in “Woods Walking.” Keating’s insights, combined with his personal humor, humility and accessibility, are marvelous. He is inspired. He “is the Other”!