Our 2020 Theme:
"Sacred Places, Wild Spaces"
"Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God..."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"In wildness is the preservation of the world...."
Henry David Thoreau
Canyonlands National Park: National Park Foundation website, photo by David Hyde
With the development of human culture, people have seen in nature something of the sacred. Philosophers, poets, authors, scientists, engineers, architects, every human endeavor really, have drawn inspiration from the world of nature. We have made great progress in our efforts to understand nature, but something always remains just beyond our reach. Our most profound beliefs continue to be expressed in metaphor, mystery, and wonder.
On the other hand, we have tried to tame nature as well, to turn natural resources into manufactured goods with the result that wilderness has been shrinking at an alarming rate. We have mostly lost the cypress swamps that served as habitat for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. In the clear cutting of rain forests, we have compromised the health of the earth and accelerated climate change. If Henry David Thoreau is right when he wrote “in wildness is the preservation of the world,” then we are in serious trouble.
Whether we are religious or not, we all need the sacred: those places where we feel most alive, where we sense our connection with the earth we trod, and the air we breathe. And those places are most powerful, when we allow them to be free and sometimes even wild. These are places where we give up control and set our spirits to receive what the sacred earth can teach us.
The earth offers lessons for our busy lives and we would do well to allow it to speak to us in all its freedom.
We invite poets and artists to help us hear and see this as you share with us on the theme “Sacred Places, Wild Spaces.”
In light of the current state of our world, we feel it would be remiss to invite submissions on this year’s theme without acknowledging where we all may be. We felt strongly about this theme when it was chosen and continue to feel the same. However, we also feel strongly that the current global pandemic and the long overdue attention to police violence and racism in our country are very much at the forefront of our thoughts. We encourage you to pay attention to those realities as well and to think about this year’s theme in context of them.