Solitude is not the absence of something rather it is simply being present to the echo and resonance of the wildness within and around us. Presence is a talent to be nourished, a discipline to be learned, a daybreak to be cherished, a way of walking and a fertile spiritual wilderness to be restored.
Poet Gary Snyder has described this discipline as shack simple — a lifetime pursuit punctuated by periods of remotely pure solitude. We see this path in their own way taken by Henry David Thoreau, by the Beat-poets Lew Welch and Jack Kerouac and Snyder himself, by Annie Dillard and John Muir, by Basho and Black Elk, Joy Harjo and Mary Oliver. In our own way The Naturalist School walks in this tradition and sits by this fire and dangles our feet in this frog-pond on the poetic path to ever-wilder simplicity.
Camille Dungy completes her prose poem On the Rocks with I want to hear what quiet really sounds like. Shack Simple stills the noise of our lives to hear nonhuman and primal-human voices. Our Shack Simple is unstructured days of sauntering and writing and mindfulness intended for adults who seek stillness and love wild silences. What is a Saunter? Quite simply, a contemplative walk.
There is a method and rubric to “Sauntering” — Thoreau’s word for a certain way of spiritual walking that is at once simple and difficult. He and his pal Ralph Waldo Emerson intended to write a guide but never did. So the task fell to Jack Phillips, author of A Pocket Guide to Sauntering. Join us and we’ll get you started.
If you are a poet-naturalist or mindful saunterer, contemplative ecologist or muddy yogi or simply a quiet soul in love with the wild, you may find our Saunters and days of Shack Simple edifying. Contact Jack Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Photos by Robert Smith.