Todd Wynward: Rewilding the Way
Rewilding the Way:
Break Free to Follow an Untamed God
The title grabbed my attention, and I wanted to find out more.
Then I read the paragraph about the author. Todd Wynward is “a wilderness guide who has spent more than one thousand nights outdoors. The founder of a wilderness-based public charter school. Wynward lives with his wife and son in an intentional community in New Mexico.”
“Oh right,” I thought. “What an impossible starting point. Of course you can talk about wildness. Or rewilding. Or whatever.”
I kept reading.
Mr. Wynward describes re-wilding Christianity the way biologists talk about rewilding an ecosystem. It means restoring vitality and system-wide health. He wants us to become “the Earth-loving, untamed people God yearns for us to be.” He encourages us to move beyond our complacency and he’s willing to offer some ways to become partners with God in an immediate, fearless, free discipleship.
Definitely a great vision; but I remained skeptical about the practicality of me—wife-mother-writer-development officer-beekeeper-volunteer-daughter-tax payer—contributing much toward that vision.
So I was pleased that pretty early in the book Mr. Wynward acknowledges that following the Jesus Way is difficult. That Christianity “overwhelmingly emphasizes the single, childless life.” That there are so many well-intentioned Christians who have families, meaningful work, community involvements AND seek, somehow, to follow the radical rabbi into transformation.
We start where we are. (Though his living in a yurt feels like a bit of an unfair advantage.)
He offers solid Biblical interpretation for his rewilding efforts, serving up fresh readings on the Beatitudes (as Jesus’s job description for disciples); and Paul (a tent-maker used to living in the wilds and living into a new understanding of enough-ness). He encourages us to honor the wildness and desert wisdom of the Pentateuch, beginning by remembering their original, Hebrew names: Birth. Departure. He Called. In the Desert. These Are the Words.
The Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s was Mr. Wynward’s introduction to rewilding. He lifts up several contemporary rewilding efforts: the Dark Mountain Project, the Transition Movement, and Carnival de Resistance, as examples of people being disciples in new, exciting, and relevant ways.
Mr. Wynward offers his own life as example and as encouragement for risk-taking on behalf of all of Creation. A central tenant is to experience that life can be better with less. Wilderness experiences help us learn to live within our limitations, and an important re-framing of our times is that the Earth really does have limitations.
“Whatever path you choose to rewild the Way,” offers Mr. Wynward, “I believe that it must be personal and political, social and spiritual, encouraging initiatives that are both individual and communal.”
I agree. And sometimes it seems overwhelming that every choice can be magnified so much that choice itself becomes paralyzing.
So I appreciate that throughout the book Mr. Wynward confesses his own not-there-yet aspects of personal rewilding. One of my favorite lines was toward the very end. After detailing seven paths toward rewilding; after re-defining the good life and offering paths forward; after living into this discipleship enough to write a book about it; he can still admit this. “Even as I adapt, however, a part of me wants to remain an unconscious and self-absorbed consumer.”
But I do feel a calling to discipleship, and I do want to learn to say “Yes” to the new challenge.
“What if Nature had rights?”
This intriguing question stays with me as I seek to think about my watershed discipleship. Because if corporations in America can have legal rights, then by God (!), Nature is more than entitled. This is the take-away for me: How do I shape my own life and choices to reflect my place within the boundaries of finite resources and infinite Love?
And how will you?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.