Ohio Illuman Monthly Update - September 2018
Rich Horton is a husband, father, grandfather as well as a retired science teacher, naturalist, spiritual director, and facilitator of the Columbus small group of Ohio Illuman: Brothers on the Journey.
I really ought to have tilted our Ohio Illuman retreat this November Touch the Earth and Be Touched by It rather than Touch the Earth: Contemplative Experiences in Nature. Nonetheless, I am honored to be facilitating this weekend experience and would like to tell you a little more about it.
Throughout my life I have yearned to connect with nature. When I was a boy I would go wandering in the woods, often by night, and sit near a stream with my back up against a tree. I could feel the soil, plants, animals, air, water and sunlight all somehow drawing me to them. At that time I just didn’t have words to describe my experience.
My encounters with nature from youth carried over into adulthood. I studied science and became a teacher because I wanted to help students comprehend how everything is connected. Later I became the director of an environmental education center where I could really focus my efforts on helping people of all ages “touch the Earth.” And while at the center I also became a volunteer associate of the Institute for Earth Education. This collaboration deepened my desire and offered me new ways to touch the earth with my head, heart and hands.
My work in Earth Education was truly a spiritual experience for me. Then after I retired from teaching, I took up a new career as a spiritual director. This is when all of my experiences from childhood, teaching, and Earth Education came together as I saw God speaking to me through creation.
My spiritual director training is in the Jungian Christian mystical tradition. This training grounded me in Celtic and Franciscan spirituality which are both deeply rooted in the earth. The mystery of my training made me feel at home as I moved along my own spiritual journey. Then the writings and the messages of Fr. Richard Rohr further deepened my experience.
My spiritual exploration and training led me into what I now know is called creation spirituality and it has also led me into the men’s work of Illuman. At the conclusion of my formal training as a spiritual director I went on my Men’s Right of Passage. What an experience that was! The rites truly helped me to pull together all the strands of my life into one whole, and this whole is also holy, for who I am is the possibility of love, joy and wonder grounded in creation. It was also Fr. Richard Rohr who led me to the work of Bill Plotkin and from him to the notion of apprenticing oneself to nature.
All of this is to say that through creation we are able to touch the earth and be touched by it for all of creation is filled with the Spirit of the Holy One.
If you would like to touch the earth and be touched by God through creation, then join other men as we gather this November for Touch the Earth: Contemplative Experiences in Nature – A Retreat for Men.
Peace Brothers and… “HO!”
Ohio Chapter of Illuman
Without us God will not. But without God, we can not.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr