After a recent storm, I climbed over fallen trees in the woods behind my family’s farm in New York. At the top of the hill, I came to a mossy clearing with an enormous gray rock. Growing up, the neighborhood kids and I would sit on top of it and look out over our houses and the community church, surrounded by forest, all the way to the horizon. This was our refuge, where we felt big in relation to the world and the world felt bigger than the view from our bedroom windows. Now, although the rock seemed smaller than I remembered and the view was peppered with rows of new suburban houses, this patch of wild land still felt sacred.
Standing there, I thought about how each of the major world religions includes a story of someone going to a wild place and communicating with the divine. Moses climbed Mount Sinai. Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree. Muhammad meditated in the Cave of Hira. I decided to travel around the United States, looking for religious and spiritual rituals that connect people with nature.
This project is ongoing.