“To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and be transformed by the journey is to be a Pilgrim.” Mark Nepo, The Exquisite Risk
Since Earth Day, April 22, I have been visiting a green space in our prairie city every day. Winding through the green of our city is my ‘nature fix’. It is nourishing my body and soul, it is deepening my appreciation of our city, and it is an ongoing process of discovery. Transformative.
In the beginning I wanted to visit parks I hadn’t experienced and was delighted to find a City of Saskatoon interactive map, that included city parks, 200 of them. Then, I discovered the Wild About Saskatoon site. It provided me with information for over 300 green spaces, which included city parks, along with special green spaces, such as the river valley along Meewasin Trail and the Northeast Swale. And then there’s the green of gorgeous yards, greenhouses, and boulevards.
As my park a day became a green space a day, I found myself revisiting some spaces and venturing to the new. Some spaces called me to rest, others piqued my curiosity. Sometimes I was in awe visiting an interesting or huge park not far from where I live, that I hadn’t known about.
Soon I noticed that not all parks are created equal. I spent time in a park that was next to a railway track and industrial area and was struck by the difference in quality and surroundings of this park to others I have visited. It was then I came across a report from our city, The Green Infrastructure Strategy, indicating that some neighbourhoods in our city are “under-greened”. Yes, some neighbourhoods have less than 1.5% green space; others have over 15%. This document also confirmed my experience, that some neighbourhoods back onto their greenspace while others have disjointed green spaces, vacant lots and are less cared for.
So far, the park pilgrimage has been an experience of awe, surprise, beauty, joy and discomfort…and it is part of something bigger. During the pandemic, I found myself wanting to spend more time in nature and that interest was strengthened through my participation in a program, called Soul of a Pilgrim. The eight- week course started out with a practice of hearing the call and wrapped up with a practice of arriving home, with lots of inner and outer work in between and more to come. So, in some ways, this pilgrimage is part of a calling. Perhaps calling me home.
Are you ready for a pilgrimage? Here are some of my discoveries:
The idea of my ‘park a day’ being a pilgrimage sprang from my deeply meaningful and life-giving experience in the eight-week Soul of a Pilgrim program offered by Queen’s House Retreat & Renewal Centre. I highly recommend this program and understand it will be offered again.
Check out the book by Christine Valters Paintner that informs the program, Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight practices for the journey within.
My guide, the City of Saskatoon interactive map.
Saskatoon’s Green Infrastructure Strategy
How did I not know about Wild About Saskatoon?
Photos above: Saskatoon’s President Murray Park, Isinger Park & Weaver Park.
To the left: Mock orange at Marr Residence.
Some of my writings on the topic of nature:
Lillas and Linda are each currently on significant sacred healing journeys that include time with family, friends and being in nature. We both enjoy blogging and intend to keep connected to our community via Facebook, blogs, and the occasional newsletter. You can sign up for the newsletter here. We are happy to share what friends in our WILL community are offering.