Finding Faith in the Forest: Stories Happen in Forests

Finding Faith in the Forest: Stories Happen in Forests


I’m Karenna Gore here with Poppy Jones. And we’re with the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. We have come into the
forest as a classroom. We’re in Van Cortlandt
Park, which is in the Bronx, right here in New York City. (Poppy)
For them to actually get out in nature, have ceremony by fire, talk, and just be part of creation was a profound experience for them. (Karenna)
The forest is a classroom and a church, and everything combined. (Poppy)
And I’m trying to focus
their minds on the medicine, but they want to hear about
how the heart opens up. They really want to be
more spiritually advanced. They want to be more spiritually open. (Karenna)
The knowledge that you share is so valuable to these seminary students. It’s not so much about the names of the trees and the plants, but it’s more the relationship
that you have with them. (Poppy)
My father is Native of this region. The stories of my grandfather
and my great-grandmother, she was Head Medicine Woman
of the Narragansett Nation in Rhode Island, what
they call Rhode Island now, affected me growing up. In the forest I was never alone. (Karenna)
All of the world’s faith
and religious traditions and spiritual traditions have a teaching of the interconnectedness
and the sacredness, or the sanctity, of creation. And then to be able to experience
that directly yourself, as opposed to just reading
about it in a book, makes the teaching more powerful. (Poppy)
Nature is so healing because
there’s so much love there. (Karenna)
Whether you call it God or Creator, or whatever name, the Universe, there’s something you can
feel of that life force when you’re in the woods. (Poppy)
We’re all here on equal terms, and we share with each other. So once people stop looking
at the forest as materials that they can just bombard and use, and start looking at this as a life. (Karenna)
There’s so much available in the forest. Whether you look at it as medicine, seeing relations in other life forms, or you look at it as revelation. Everything is interrelated and
balanced in a way right now that involves the forest,
and we cannot cut them down without that changing. (Poppy)
Without these forests, we die. Without these leaves on these
trees around me, we die. Because we eat. We don’t eat rocks. (Karenna)
We breathe. (Poppy)
We breathe. We need oxygen, we need
food, we need water. (Karenna)
We need to protect the
forest for our health, for our survival as a species, ultimately is what it’s about, but also for our own
integrity and wellbeing.

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