The Holyscapes Project

Robert’s Creek, BC

Welcome to Holyscapes!

Holy · scape / hōlē skāp / noun: neologism coined to express the convergence between interior and exterior place- and landscapes.

In a time of environmental catastrophe, spiritual despair, political farce, and racial injustice, the convergence between interior and exterior, body and mind/soul, self and other, self and world become a powerful point of analysis of the world in which we seek to dwell. How might a deeper sense of the world’s holiness contribute to healing hearts and ecosystems? The Holyscapes Project is an attempt to explore this terrain.

In my own experience, I have always been fascinated by places set apart: churches, temples, synagogues, cathedrals, historic sites, national parks, rivers, oceans, and particularly, forests. Place and space have a profound impact on how we feel, what we believe and our ethics. Against any kind of dualism between spirit and matter, I have always felt that the interior is intimately connected to the exterior, like a kind of oscillating spectrum. Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins coined the term Inscape, similar to my own Holyscape, as a kind of Holy finger print that each creature brings into the world, its uniqueness or as Franciscan scholastic theologian Jon Duns Scotus called it, a beings Haecceity (Hek-see-a-dee).

Yet, Holyscapes captures something more than just the miraculous this-ness of each creature, but also its inextricability from the world. Holiness captures what I sense when I walk with a forest, when I pray, when I go to Mass. Holyscapes are the places that nourish our Inscape. Holyscapes are places where we make a living, grow our food, and go to be with family and friends, where we worship, where we move and where we dwell. Holyscapes are also places where more-than-human life can flourish in partnership with human beings, or on their own terms. Holyscapes are the many layers of place, story and sacred sites that preceded many of us of immigrant backgrounds. Holyscapes are the wild and tangled inner landscapes where we fight demons and strive toward the divine. Holyscapes are our very own spiritual ecologies whether urban, suburban, rural or wild.

The Holyscapes Project seeks to think about, explore, teach and advocate the many ways in which human beings can deepen our connection to the Holy through place. By paying attention to the places we spend time, by exploring new places, by making more time for prayer, contemplation and art, and by seeking to defend the places under threat, we are engaging in reclaiming the world and all its holiness, in hope for a livable future.

The Holyscape Project and its methods to moral and spiritual connection should not be seen as sufficient in itself in response to the ecological crisis, but forms part of a broader strategy of social-ecological change. It is however essential to the endurance of activism to be rooted and nourished by the spiritual traditions in order to continue the daunting work that must be done.

How to access Holyscapes Project’s Creations

Essay, Poetry and Photography: Holyscapes at Patheos Blog

Photography: @Holyscapes on Instagram

Online Workshops and Courses: Holyscapes Patreon