Hikers celebrate God in nature

Holy Hikes participants visited the Prayer Book Cross in Golden Gate Park during their January excursion.

It is not uncommon to hear people say something like: “I don’t need to go to church. I can worship God in nature on a sandy seashore or even a golf course.” Well, a group of Bay Area Christians have formed an organization that combines worship of God and appreciation of nature.
Holy Hikes is a ministry of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley. Members and guests gather on the fourth Saturday of each month for a “liturgical hike,” celebrating the Holy Eucharist in the context of a scenic nature area somewhere in the Bay Area. The location changes monthly to allow for a diverse experience and for people living in all areas to be nurtured by this ministry.
Founder and director of Holy Hikes is the Rev. Justin R. Cannon who was ordained a priest last December and is working as Program Manager with Episcopal Charities. He describes himself as “passionate about finding ways to not just care for the earth, but to rebuild and nurture communion between the human community and the rest of nature.”
Each hike draws 20 to 40 participants who find the experience to be:
– Christian
– Contemplative
– Sacramental
– Liturgical
– Diverse
– Inclusive
– Beautiful.
The hike on Jan. 28 serves as an example of a typical Holy Hike. Thirty-seven men and women, young adults to senior citizens, some accompanied by their dogs, gathered at 10 a.m. on the shore of Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. After a brief greeting by Father Cannon and distribution of worship leaflets, they set off to leisurely follow the mile-long footpath circling the lake. There were stops along the trail for prayers, Bible readings and a celebration of the Mass in a meadow behind the boathouse.
After the loop around the lake, the more adventurous participants continued to one of the park’s hidden treasures, a 57-foot sandstone Celtic cross obscured by trees and a waterfall. This required a trek down a slope, across JFK Drive and up a 200-foot hill.
This cross commemorates the first use of the Book of Common Prayer along the West Coast of North America, by the chaplain of Sir Francis Drake’s ship in 1579. It was presented by the Church of England to the people of San Francisco in January of 1894 at the opening of a Midwinter Fair.
Holy Hikes has enjoyed visits to a wide variety of locations to combine healthy exercise and spirituality:
– Redwood Regional Park, Oakland
– Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley
– The Presidio National Cemetery, San Francisco
– Lake Merritt, Oakland
– Pinole Point Regional Shoreline, Richmond
– Mt. Tamalpais State Park, Marin County.
Upcoming events include a hike at San Francisco’s Land’s End (March 24) and on Angel Island (April 28). For more information about this Christian hiking group, visit www.holyhikes.org.

Leave your comments