One of Betty W. Skinner’s encouragers in her intense desire to be present to God in nature was Henry David Thoreau, an American philosopher, naturalist, and essayist. He, too, rejected society’s norms and turned to nature to try to find Truth and spiritual fulfillment. Thoreau believed in and lived the art of walking, or as he so beautifully called it, “sauntering towards the Holy Land.”
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…So we saunter towards the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever he has done, shall perchance shine into our minds and hearts, and light up our lives with a great awakening light, as warm and serene and golden as on a bankside in Autumn.
On one of her many walks in the silence and beauty of the mountains, Betty wrote this in the margin of her little book, rain-warped and held together by a rubber band:
Silence gently draws us to our depth. By letting go of our many words, we are drawn to that one Word made flesh, that Word that gives life and power to all of our spoken words
And this from her story in The Hidden Life Awakened:
One morning I got up early to walk up the mountain. It was a brilliant sunny day, and I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than walking in the early morning when the sunlight is highlighting a color change. It is so exquisite it makes you cry. I walked and walked and walked and filled up and filled up and filled up, but I just couldn’t get enough of the warm feeling of God’s presence. So when evening came, I went to a place where the sun sets and closed my day with God, looking out over the glorious painting of creation He had made and makes new every fall. I was experiencing a profound sense of oneness and knew that God was walking with me. I understood, finally, that God’s love encompasses all of creation and all of humanity with oneness. He creates it all, loves it all, and sustains it all.
I become a vagrant, a wanderer in these woods,
A hermit in my meadow cave,
Warmed by the inner fire of desire,
Besieged by Him Who is at the heart of everything.
The still, sad music of all humanity, its suffering
Sings clear, close incarnate notes of hope
Embraced through faith’s transcendent reason.
Autumn speaking in poignant flames
Of something, someone, beyond time or name.
When the heavy, weary weight of worldly cares are laid asleep
And the burden of life’s chaos is lightened in the Deep.
Of first Love whispering on the wind
Inconsolable longings from within.