Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in her poem “Aurora Leigh,” writes:

…Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.

Indeed, Earth is crammed with heaven. Every common bush—at Durand Eastman Park, in Mount Hope Cemetery, and around the church yard—is afire with God. Part of the challenge for us is to learn to see God in every common bush, to recognize the sacred and to give credit where credit is due.

The YOUth@Third and their advisors (and sometimes their advisors’ dogs!) gather at a different local park one Saturday afternoon per month for a prayer hike called Worship in the Woods. This informal gathering is an opportunity to think, pray, talk to and about God, decompress from a stressful week of school, walk, listen to birds and insects, and generally contemplate the wonders of creation.

Bruce Stanley, a leader in the Forest Church movement in the U.K., believes that “nature is God’s first book; Scripture is the second.” He argues that a careful study of God’s creation—rocks, soils, flora, and fauna—allows us to better understand the Godhead, just as examining the Bible gives us greater insight into the work and relationship of the holy Trinity. Both nature and the Bible require interpretation, which comes about through the same process of quiet contemplation and spiritual discernment.

Our hope is that while the YOUth@Third have literally kept their shoes on while they’ve walked around Fishers Park and Powder Mills Park, they’ve taken off their proverbial sandals, just as Moses did so many years ago in the desert.

Read more about options for participation in YOUth@Third, and click the “Register Now!” button to complete the online registration.