Some Thoreauvian thoughts on the need for "immersion in places we cherish" and a few photos taken whilst walking through "Parsonage Copse", Devon

In connection with the theme of the piece I published yesterday, a friend of mine, the philosopher Ed Mooney, as part of our longstanding and ongoing conversation about such things, sent me a splendid essay he has just posted on his own blog called “Nature Walks and Thoreau: The Need for Immersion in Environmental Writing.” Both of us share a recognition that our respective professions (Ed as a philosopher and me as a liberal religious minister) really must find ways to balance the (sometimes) necessary analytical stepping-back with a constant, real and deep immersion in the world. Ed’s plea (which speaks so very powerfully to me) is:

. . . for a poetic wisdom that revels and recoils as the touch, smell, and color of creation or nature intrudes. Now and then we can refuse the backward step and convey in our writing the sense that creation touches and invades us — leaves us its colors, excitements, lilts, and tangs.

As Ed rightly says:

We need a taste of nature or creation as an ever-unfolding set of invitations to immersion in places we cherish. We need exposure to the delicate, awesome or sublime – even the numinous, sacred, or holy.

As you might imagine — given that Ed has recently published a very fine book on Thoreau — Thoreau’s insights find their way into Ed’s essay such as this passage from his journal:

There is nothing so poetic, as a walk in the woods and fields.  I come to myself, I once more feel myself grandly related.  It is as if I always met in those places some grand, serene, immortal, infinitely encouraging though invisible companion, and walked with him. There at last my nerves are steadied, my senses and my mind do their office. . . I love and celebrate nature.

After receiving Ed’s email and splendid essay this morning Susanna and I took a walk in the woods and fields nearby where our nerves were steadied and our senses and our minds were able to do our individual, appropriate “divine offices.”

Part of my own (Thoreauvian) “office” is the taking of photographs and today I particularly wanted to take some of the walk up the steep(ish) hill behind where we are staying through what is called Parsonage Copse. I post a few of them here for your pleasure. All were taken with an iPhone 6+ and the Hipstamatic App using a black and white combination of film (Roosevelt 26) and lens (Lincoln) that seemed to suit my Thoreavian mood. (For those interested in such things here is a helpful review of of both the film and the lens.) As always, just click on a photo to enlarge it.


















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