Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Power of Place

I recently finished reading Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris. I enjoyed it and recommend it. Ms. Norris and her husband, both New York City poets, chose to move onto Ms. Norris’ grandparents’ farm after the grandparents had died. Norris is also a lay Presbyterian minister and a Benedictine oblate. In this book, she shares her growth as a resident of theHope, South Dakota area and the Great Plains in general and how she taps into its spiritual power. A few quotes might give you an idea of Norris’ views on sense of place and the power of place like the Hope, South Dakota area. “I wonder if a church like Hope doesn’t teach the world in a way a monastery does, not by loudly voicing its views but existing quietly in its own place.” She further wonders whether, “American’s urban majority…might be seen as immigrants to a land of asphalt and cement...[that] require access to the spirits of land and place…spirits [that] cannot be transported or replaced.” After finishing the book, I Googled “power of place” to see what else was out there on that topic. Many of the resulting web pages were for urban planning (creating places), some were on special places one can go for a healing reconnection with land. The latter made me realize that instead of living in places that drive us crazy then having to find a healing reconnection with a special place, we’d be healthier if we have a continuing, healthy connection with the land in which we live and work, just as preventive medicine says ‘we’ll help you stay healthy’ and not just ‘we’ll fix you when you’re sick.’ One predictor of health is whether one feels in control of one’s life vs. feeling pushed around by events. I haven’t seen the research on it, but I imagine that another predictor of health could be a healthy appreciation of the land on/with which one lives.

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