I was born in a trailer park, and my family did not have resources to provide me with the latest technology, or to travel to exotic destinations around the world. In fact, while I have since travelled to several ends of the Earth, to this day I have still not set foot in Europe, I have not gazed upon the fine art in The Louvre. However, my family did impart upon me an affinity with the Natural world, apart from human civilization.
As a child, in Northwest Pennsylvania and Western New York, I spent summers in the woods, in hills and preserves named after Iroquois tribes, gaining an understanding of the interconnectedness of life. I was raised in the Episcopal Church, but my church introduced me to the wonder and spectacle of landscapes like Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Park. To this day, I consider those deserts to be the most sacred space I have encountered.
The human technological construct is a bubble that we lose our selves in, that we tend to divorce our actions from their consequences. I spent several uninterrupted weeks in Death Valley, and that experience was the first that burst that bubble, that construct, and made clear the extent of which we fool ourselves. The scale of humanity becomes clear in a landscape as grand as that one.
In the last ten years I was fortunate enough to travel across the Pacific and Indian Oceans; once again the bubble was popped, because the bubble of our vessel was so insignificant and vulnerable as compared to the massive oceans, and yet the crystal clear sky, with its infinite stars, made clear the vulnerability of all life on Earth. These spaces, apart from human civilization, wild and open, I hold to be sacred. While I don’t get to travel to them as often as I would like, these spaces hold more spirituality for me than any church or human construct. Despite all the trappings of our technology, I cannot forget them.