May’s Wilderness

I have just finished reading a book that moved me to the core: The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006) by Gerald G. May (1940-2005). According to the Forward by Parker J. Palmer, May knew he was dying when he wrote the book. And indeed, toward the end of the text, he mentions in passing his fatal illness. The book was published posthumously in 2006. It was his nineth book.

The book was given to me by the May family for my birthday in 2021. I know May’s son, Greg, a circus clown and juggler, because we are both writers. May mentions Greg several times in the text, and the author’s picture on the back page of the dust jacket was taken by Greg. On the blank page at the beginning of the book is a hand-written note signed by “the May family,” expressing the wish that May and I might have known each other because we would have been good friends. I am deeply honored.

The Wisdom of Wilderness is a dissertation drawn from May’s times spent in the wild. He describes his trips away from civilization into the mountains and forests to find peace and reconnect with nature. The best way for me to sum up what he learns is to quote two short passages from the end of the book:

From the next to the last page:

Love is the pervading passion of all things that draws diversity into oneness, that knows and pleads for union, that aches for goodness and beauty, that suffers loss and destruction.

And the last paragraph:

What the Power of Slowing taught me is what the Source of the All constantly yearns for: that each one of us will know without doubt that we are loved, and that we are intimately, irrevocably part of the endless creation of love, and that we will join, with full freedom and consciousness, the joyous creativity that is Nature, that is Wildness, that is Wilderness, that is Everything.

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