Collisions of Earth and Sky – Heidi Barr

Collisions of Earth and Sky: Connecting with Nature for Nourishment, Reflection, and Transformation by Heidi Barr
Published by Broadleaf Books on January 31, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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Research indicates that spending time in a natural setting provides a plethora of benefits, from lower blood pressure to increased immunity to an enhanced sense of well-being and happiness. People who appreciate nature tend to experience more moments of joy and are more innovative. Being connected to nature helps us be more fully human and better planetary citizens. But the pace of our lives often leaves little room for connecting with nature, and our history of colonization complicates our relationship to the landscapes we inhabit.
Collisions of Earth and Sky is an invitation to live in a way that is attuned to nature, paying attention to what's going on inside ourselves and in the larger collective. Guided by wellness coach and poet Heidi Barr, it is a journey of self-inquiry for digging into our origins and roots, figuring out what it means to be a good community member--both to other humans and to our nonhuman neighbors--and integrating those truths and lessons so we can add to the healing of the world. Barr shows us a way to let nature be an ally in living well, offering hopeful inspiration to continue our own path of self-discovery.
A collection of reflections, poetry, and invitations to discovery, Collisions of Earth and Sky calls you to celebrate what it is to embrace wildness as an integral part of being fully alive.

As a young adult, I was never much for nature. Outdoors was what someone experienced as they walked between the building they were in and their vehicle. I think that’s the result of outdoors = work for a lot of my teenage years, particularly meaning sitting on a riding mower. Not exactly a great way of connecting with nature. My philosophy changed when I became a dad, escalated during COVID lockdowns, then hit its peak when I moved to the UK and lived within a walkable distance to both the local park, school, and nature reserve. I wouldn’t call myself one with nature quite yet, but the local children call me The Guy From the Park or [one of my children’s names] Dad.

Collisions of Earth and Sky is a reflection on how to connect with the natural world. Not just nature as in the trees and grass and wildlife, but nature as the larger natural order of things separate from humankind’s technological impositions. Wellness coach and poet Heidi Barr leads the journey, using her own life and journey toward “rewilding” herself as the framework for the discussion about not losing the beauty of God’s creation amid the innovation, convenience, and distractions of our own creations.

Barr encourages readers to learn the history of the land on which they live, which for many means facing the realities of living on stolen and colonized land. Facing that reality can be difficult, and even those willing to do that often don’t know what to do past acknowledging that. One of the book’s most important statements is buried in a preface offering a land acknowledgement—and acknowledging the limitations of such an acknowledgment—while committing to donate half of all royalties to Indigenous-run organizations.

Other chapters of Collisions of Earth and Sky encourage readers to get in touch with their own histories and to understand the people and place you came from. I very much appreciated the chapter on “collaborating with age,” acknowledging the natural process of aging. Barr doesn’t so much map out a journey that one must follow but rather poetically invites readers to imagine what these things would look like for them. The narrative ebbs and flows, but the theme of simply connecting with the world around us remains paramount.

In a world increasingly connected, we are increasingly disconnected from both others and nature—and even ourselves. Collisions of Earth and Sky posits that returning to nature, slowing the pace of life, and developing a grounded sense of place will increase those connections. And as we heal our relationship with nature, we will heal our relationship with ourselves and with others. We can’t unring the bell of technology (nor should we), but Collisions of Earth and Sky suggests that nature isn’t something to progress away from but build back toward—and the result will be healthier people and a healthier world.