I OFTEN SAY that my “church” is the one with the great big blue ceiling. People usually chuckle as they grasp my meaning, though I’m not certain that they take me very seriously.

But the marriage of nature and spirit appears to be simmering just below the surface for many who care about these things. Each time we open the gates at Alternatives Journal and ask for submissions with no particular theme, we are flooded by queries in which spirit figures large.

It could be my own bias, but as I sift through and select articles that overflow my inbox, I find that many of those who wonder at the beauty and power of nature seem to look beyond science to understand what is before them.

The sheer magnificence of a sunrise, the relief felt as those early spring flowers push up through the damp snow-laden soil, stories of songbirds that weigh less than 50 grams and fly 500 kilometres a day to cheer up our forests and fields with their distinctive tunes. These things fill me with awe and make me thankful for the natural world that I’m so privileged to enjoy.

Our first Out of the Box issue (34:1, 2008) featured “The Buddhist and the Tomato,” the “Taboo of the Sacred” as well as “Harry Potter and the Nature of Death.” It flew off newsstands, initiating some intense and satisfying discussions about how we sometimes fail to celebrate nature in our bids to make a living through environmental protection.

This issue continues the discussion. Laban Ogallo takes us deep into Africa where meteorologists have joined forces with Kenya’s Nganyi rainmakers. Combining conventional science with what was long thought to be hocus-pocus indigenous knowledge, these unlikely bedfellows are predicting the weather with unprecedented success.

Ryerson University professor Mark Gorgolewski cites Mountain Equipment Coop as a leader in using salvaged materials in new building construction. Far from being inferior, these materials are often stronger than newer ones and can be decorated with old war wounds that tell stories of lives past.

Rob Thacker takes us into far away galaxies where spirits must surely reside! With youthful exuberance, he will make sure that you never again look up without wondering if there is life up there among those millions and billions of sparkling stars. Meanwhile, undergraduate student Kathryn Gwun-Yeen Lennon is left speechless by the skywaterskywaterskywater of Nunavut’s Cumberland Sound as she partakes in an indigenous seal hunt.

Finally, Swami Sivananda (formerly environmental consultant Don Gamble) will take you on an astonishing journey. Whether or not you knew Don Gamble, his story of finding a way “to be the change” he wanted will resonate with those who believe in the church with the big blue ceiling.

Summer has arrived again. Nature has not let us down. Enjoy its wonders.

Nicola Ross is the former Editor of Alternatives Journal, and is a member of the editorial board.

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