For one hour every Tuesday, we follow a beautifully orchestrated pattern based on random selection, with magical consequences. The Spirit Walk starts with a couple of virtues picked blindly from a beautiful set of cards and read aloud. That leads us into a ten-minute silent walking meditation through university gardens along gravel paths, followed by talking and sharing on a trail called Mystic Vale. The path is consistent. No two walks are ever alike.
The human mind and spirit are unfathomable in their range and richness. The short period of focused reflection allows a small sampling. Baha’u’llah said
“The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection,”
. Abdu’l-Baha explained this intriguing process somewhat by explaining:
“While you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind, you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.”
The key, of course, is to listen once the question is asked. Thoughts spring unbidden to the mind and are followed, leading to doors previously unopened. Each one of us has access to a wellspring of wisdom that flows through us from beyond our boundaries. That wisdom is the source of true independence of thought and spirit.
Focused reflection can be accomplished at almost any quiet time or place. We’ve chosen a beautiful natural environment and added the mingling of thoughts. Laughter is fairly frequent on those walks, perhaps because of the sheer joy of breathing, walking and talking together. Out in the open it’s easy for spirits to soar. Baha’u’llah said.
“Lay not upon your souls that which will weary them and weigh them down, but rather what will lighten and uplift them”,
Often, we ask ourselves what nature is telling us about the concept at hand, whether it’s hope, joyfulness, assertiveness, service, decisiveness or whichever two among dozens of virtues that the cards have chosen that day to offer us. Thankfully each concept comes with a small paragraph defining it, but the insights come totally from the minds and hearts of those walking among the trees.
There is no better metaphor or aid to understanding than those rooted giants. Any question can be asked. Why do we hope? The tree hopes and strives for the sun, expecting its needs to be met, wanting nothing more or less than to grow and thrive to the full extent of its capacity. But what about service? There’s so much going on beneath the ground, where an entire community of roots cooperate in ways we’re only beginning to understand. Decisiveness? Ah. There’s no hesitation, no fearfulness or second guessing among the trees. There’s also no capacity for evil. Only human beings can decide to actively turn away from the light.
We share with nature a capacity to evolve, not just physically but as individuals and societies. Our physical, mental and spiritual health are directly linked to our groundedness and the quality of our connection with ourselves and with others. In the Bahá’í writings the goal of spiritual health and well-being is a central focus.
“We must strive unceasingly and without rest to accomplish the development of the spiritual nature in man, and endeavor with tireless energy to advance humanity toward the nobility of its true and intended station.”
The Spirit Walks, a service offered by Bahá’í volunteers at the UVic Multifaith Centre, are one small example of the many ways that goal can be pursued.
Link to current information on Spirit Walks UVic Multifaith Centre
Sheila Flood is a member of the Bahá’í community of Saanich and Chair of the Victoria Multifaith Society.
You can read more articles on our interfaith b;log, Spiritually Speaking, HERE