I am in South Dakota for a few days as a birthday present from my father. We are pheasant hunting which means every day we load up in small school buses that drive us into the prairies and we walk though fields of winter wheat and corn and olive trees as bird dogs work the underbrush to scare up a pheasant. South Dakota is spiritually sacred place. Kathleen Norris writes about sacred places in an interview here:
|Well, it can be found anywhere. You can find it in any neighborhood. In cities, you find it in humanity more than in nature. What I meant by a “sense of the sacred,” is the sense that this is a created world, and we are a very small part of it. We influence things greatly, but when you’re standing out in the prairie and there’s just this open sky and open land around you, you realize how small you are. How vulnerable. That’s a spiritual humbling that reminds you that God is greater.|
So Kathleen Norris speaks about the power of the prairies. Today as we walked miles and miles of the Dakota prairies, I was thinking of Kathleen Norris’ amazing book Dakota and how she wrote about learning the power of the Christian life when she moved from New York to a tiny town called Lemmon, South Dakota. In the vastness of the prairies, where humanity takes a back seat to mile after mile of rolling field and nothing encumbers the 360 degree view of the sky, you experience a bit of the grandeur of God again. Nature is so big out here, so far from the city, even in a place where some foolishly say is “barren”. Walking the fields today, listening to the wind pass through the standing stalks of corn making their shriveled brown leaves quake like paper cranes, I felt my soul at ease a bit. In the rush and exhilaration of this Fall, I needed a few days to be in nature and feel small again. To watch the clouds pass idly by, to feel the sun in my face and the cool of evening approach as the night came on, I needed some sabbath rest.
Mrs. Norris is right– today I felt spiritually humbled by God’s greatness in the vastness of Dakota. And I am all the luckier to have experienced it.