Landscapes of Earth and Soul


Robert’s Creek, BC

I have always been fascinated by places: Churches, temples, synagogues, cathedrals, historic cities, national parks, rivers, oceans, and particularly, forests. In my PhD work, I studied sacred sites, sacred landscapes, and religion and ecology, particularly the relationship Catholic monks have to landscape in the American West. However, I have always had a beef with the word ‘sacred’; its root means’ set apart’, ‘separated’. Modern notions of sacred and profane, culture and nature, divide more than unify. On vacation as a kid, we would drive away from ‘Culture’ to ‘Nature’. But in an era of catastrophic climate change, a dawning Anthropocene, and rampant post-religious spirituality, I think we need a different approach to describing our connection with the Absolute, or God.

The word Holy comes from Germanic and later English root words connected to wholeness, health, and even happiness. Holiness captures what I sense when I walk into a forest. A hidden wholeness, an aliveness. Connecting this wholeness to land, without using words like Nature which again invoke separation, I came up with Holy-scape. Landscape comes from the Dutch for “the shape of the land.” So a Holyscapes are the ways we make Holy the lands and places where we dwell.

Holyscapes are places where human beings make their living, grow their food, where they go to be with family and friends, where they worship, where they move and where they dwell. Holyscapes are also places where non-humans can flourish without exploitation and the threat of extirpation. Holyscapes are the many layers of place, story and sacred sites that preceded many of us of immigrant background. Holyscapes are the wild and tangled inner landscapes where we fight demons and strive toward the divine.

After starting this Blog I was approached by Patheos to get my writer out to a wider audience. Thus, Holyscapes @ Patheos will continue to explore these themes. My posts here will include more personal reflections, poetry, photography, other writing.

If you are interested in purchasing any of my photography, please see my Photography page. Any and all revenue generated by the sales of my photographs will go directly to paying down my student loans. Cheers, and enjoy!