“Rare and Delectable Places”

John Gatta

in Making Nature Sacred

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780195165050
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835140 | DOI:
 “Rare and Delectable Places”

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Walden Pond, the obvious focal point of Thoreau’s worship and spiritual discovery, qualifies thereby as a sacred place in the author’s celebrated account of “where he lived.” Thoreau’s place-centered spirituality is both active and contemplative, with the contemplative dimension vividly conveyed through his description of morning meditation in the chapter “Sounds.” Thoreau, despite his elusive and inconsistent theology, sometimes confirms belief in a personal Deity and typically envisions nature as a divine Creation. In the famous sandbank cosmogony that appears at the climax of the chapter “Spring,” Thoreau combines a numinous vision of continuous creation with an evolutionary dynamic informed by recent scientific discoveries in biology, geography, and geology. Thoreau imagined nature’s wildness, which enables us to “witness our own limits transgressed,” as wedded thereby to our sense of the sacred.

Keywords: evolutionary; wildness; sacred; Thoreau; numinous; Walden; theology; contemplative; Creation; cosmogony

Chapter.  7778 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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