Good morning. As this is my fourth post, I thought it nigh time to write about the essence of this post, Stewardship: Caring for Land and Community. I am presenting this blog to support those who care for the well-being of their community through being a steward of land, being of service to the land. By definition stewardship has traditionally occurred on land one doesn’t own. The Nature Conservancy has an army of land stewards, volunteers who visit and monitor the land. I’ll discuss three aspects of stewardship:
Establishing a Sense of Wonder and Relationship: Becoming a steward takes time. The first task is to spend time on a piece of land, walking it, camping there, observing. Looking for subtle and overt changes either daily or seasonally, and attempting to discover trends that are taking place. You spend time on the land, becoming familiar with it, recording its daily rhythms, becoming part of it, connected to it. This process may be similar to getting to know somebody for the first time or trying to befriend someone.
Sharing Land: The community part is next, as once you start beginning to know the land, the next thing is to share what you’ve learned. Perhaps you own a piece of property that allows access and you allow the public to come onto your land. As a wise steward of a place, you begin to share you wisdom with others. It is vital that you share what you’ve learned with others so they too can learn about a special place. They can learn about a place that speaks to them. A steward is therefore an outreach person, an environmental educator in the truest sense.
Spiritual Qualities: A third part of stewardship is perhaps a little tougher to define, but it has to do with a spiritual element. Essentially all great spiritual teachers spent time in the wilderness, then returned to begin their missions. Natural awareness can lead to spiritual awareness. I love what Barry Lopez writes in Arctic Dreams: “Be alert for the openings, for that moment when something sacred reveals itself within the mundane and you know the land knows you are there.”
All of the aforementioned components are important for stewardship: observation and knowledge, sharing what you’ve learned, establishing a spiritual connection to land, and then in the end you have gained a bit of wisdom. Through time you can be a representative of that piece of land, for you will have the knowledge to help make decisions about this piece of land to to others resulting in a great benefit to the community. ~