The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature

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9780060845407: The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature

The natural world has a power to inspire the best and soothe the worst in each of us. It also has much to teach us about the wilderness within and the divine presence that is manifest in nature. In this, his last work, beloved author Gerald May offers a memoir and spiritual guide that reveals the great lessons available to us when we retreat from our busy lives to the serenity of the natural wilderness.

The Wisdom of Wilderness expresses the healing and wholeness May received through spending time in the wild -- whether hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, or, often, just sitting. Also, May saw that wilderness can be found anywhere -- a garden, a park, perhaps in one's own room, or even in other people. Wherever we find it, it calls to what is natural in each of our hearts, reassuring us that we are part of a bigger creation and teaching us how to make peace with the outer world and with our inner selves.

For May, nature was not something to rise above. The belief that we must dominate and tame all that is wild around and within us is the most fundamental estrangement of Western civilization, long inflicting wounds upon the planet and upon ourselves. But before we can effectively heal the earth, we must somehow recover our own natural wholeness, our own wildness and kinship with nature. We cannot do this healing for ourselves, but only through "the grace of Something or Someone beyond" -- and in May's case, he found this grace in Nature itself.

This moving, beautifully written book is Gerald May at his best. It includes a foreword by author Parker J. Palmer, which illuminates the importance of May's life and writing and explains how this last book fits into the body of his work.

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About the Author:

Gerald G. May, M.D. (1940-2005), practiced medicine and psychiatry for twenty-five years before becoming a senior fellow in contemplative theology and psychology at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Bethesda, Maryland. He was the author of many books and articles blending spirituality and psychology, including Addiction and Grace, Care of Mind/Care of Spirit, Will and Spirit, and The Dark Night of the Soul.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Psychiatrist May (1940–2005), known for his works blending psychology and spirituality (Addiction and Grace), chose the theme and milieu of Nature for this, his last book. Chronicling outdoor forays he took from 1990 to 1995, May's elegant prose uses a storyteller's magic to plumb the profound mystery of outside events that provoke and foster inner change. Vivid details and masterful style place the reader in context: breathing alongside a bear, drumming with cicadas, grieving a man-mutilated turtle, dodging eagles or seeking fire's heat in a soaking storm. "Thunder came and it was my song, and the wind my courtesan, and praise welled up inside me as the rain poured, drenching down around and in and through me until the fire finally died under its flow and there was nothing but cold dark chilling water covering everything, running down my legs into rivulets." May is a kind of Christian Zen master, but this book doesn't favor a particular religious tradition so much as the deep wild of nature's way. In this work for everyone, he wants us to understand that wilderness is our natural state and that contemplative communion with the "Power of the Slowing" will bring us safely home to our wild eternal selves. (June)
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