The Gentle Art

I keep a big folder full of favorite writings that have been assigned to me in various courses. It’s sort of the “greatest hits” folder. I really need a better system, though, because the readings have outgrown the folder, which is now taped together to keep the pages from completely billowing out of control. One of the writings that I keep coming back to was given to me in the greatest class of all time, “Walking The Land,” taught by Dr. Bran Potter at Sewanee.

The piece I have in mind is a few chapters from Stephen Graham’s The Gentle Art of Tramping, written in 1926. At times Graham is a bit sentimental and over the top, but let’s face it, so am I. I dig it. Here’s a taste of his writing:

You need to study equipment, care of health, how to sleep out of doors, what to eat, how to cook on the camp fire. These things you teach yourself. For the rest Nature becomes your teacher, and from her you will learn what is beautiful and who you are and what is your special quest in life and whither you should go. You relax in the presence of the great healer and teacher, you turn your back on civilization and what you learned in schools, museums, theaters, galleries. You live on manna vouchsafed to  you daily, miraculously. You stretch out arms for hidden gifts, you yearn toward the moonbeams and stars, you listen with new ears to bird’s song and the murmurs of trees and streams. If ever you were proud or quarrelsome or restless, the inflammation goes down, fanned by the coolness of humility and simplicity…


#stillloveyoubarthbutkindadigsomenaturaltheologyfromtimetotime. (That’s a seminary joke… don’t worry about it. They won’t think it’s funny either).


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