Wild Church begins at Transfiguration Preserve

By Crystal Morrison

The soul is like a wild animal – tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient and yet exceedingly shy.

If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out.

But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek. – Parker J Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

            When you walk outside, hike, rock climb, swim in the lake, or just take time to sit in a quiet place outside – do you feel closer to the Sacred? When you see a deer or a rabbit, or a ground hog running or playing, do feel the whisper of a prayer?

The Episcopal Church of Transfiguration in Bat Cave began Wild Church on May 13th, 2023 at 5:00 p.m. The services are held at the Transfiguration Preserve at 188 Mt Tabor Way in Bat Cave. Each Sunday, rain or shine, participants gather at the Transfiguration Retreat House to circle in prayer and then walk into the forest to the clearing that was the original church and school, built in 1900.

            The Sisters of Transfiguration arrived in Bat Cave in 1897. They built the first church and school in 1900. The church was moved in 1915 to a location closer to the river, near the current location of the Bat Cave Fire Station. The church moved again to its current location on Hwy 64.

            Why Wild Church? The Wild Church Network explains that “in this time of insecurity and change, we are compelled to invite people into intimate relationship with the land, waters, and creatures who share our homes.” Connecting to the Sacred through nature brings us a sense of peace and awareness. EVERYONE is welcome to come to the Preserve and enter the canopy of trees that serves as our cathedral. Most Sundays are led by lay members of the community and some Sundays we have priests from surrounding communities that lead services. The clergy led services usually include communion. (The Church of Transfiguration is currently in the discernment process to find a new rector). The services include time to walk and immerse yourself in nature and have a personal experience with the land. We also have an opportunity to share experiences. We have volunteers who offer their musical talents some Sundays. Musical offerings have included guitar, Native American Flute, and acapella singing.

            In 2019, Dr. Mattie Decker, an Oblate in the Community of Transfiguration and resident of Bat Cave, became certified as a Nature and Forest Therapy Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy in Norway. She joined the Wild Church Network as the Preserve began offering Sacred Saunters through Conserving Carolina. If you are interested in a Sacred Saunter, check the Conserving Carolina website for the schedule. During this time, Crystal Morrison a church member and Lake Lure resident, began thinking about the option of offering a full worship opportunity in the Wild. The seed was planted and it finally germinated and began to grow this year with Wild Church.

Everyone is invited to come into the circle of the forest and listen to the quiet. To find that connection through the trees and plants to what is sacred within you. Each Sunday 5:00 p.m. at the Transfiguration Preserve, 188 Mt Tabor Way, Bat Cave NC.  

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