Chicago Botanic Gardens Nature Walk

by Fr. Chris Hardman

I am going to my 50th high school reunion Memorial Day weekend. It will be the first time I have been back to my hometown in over 10 years.

I am, of course, looking forward to seeing my high school friends and the town itself. But I am also looking forward to seeing those "hills" again. I grew up in the midst of Crowley's Ridge, a series of rolling hills that run along the Mississippi River between the southeast corner of Missouri and my hometown, Helena, Arkansas.

It was in those hills that all my "Snuffy" adventures took place, and my imagination goes back to those hills quite often. One of my fondest memories is of this fawn that one of my friends found. It had been hurt and so my friend kept it at his house for several weeks so as to nurse it back to health. It was the talk of the neighborhood for weeks. When the deer was healthy again, my friend's Dad made him let it go. I am not sure how the deer fared. If he stayed within the city limits, he might have had a chance. If not, he may be on someone's living room wall.

That experience comes to mind because I see deer in Harms Woods all the time. And when I see one close up I always stop for a minute to promote "communion." As I said at the picnic, anytime we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit in any creature, we experience the grace of God.

A couple of weeks ago my dog, Pearl, and I were walking through a rather dense section of the forest. As we passed this opening in the woods, I noticed a young fawn not 20ft away. I stopped and stared at her for a while. Pearl was looking the other way, and so did not see the deer. I turned to Pearl and said, "no grace for you."

The forest is a place of grace. It is a place that can open us to the presence of God. On Tuesday, June 27th, I would like to lead a prayer pilgrimage into the forest around the Chicago Botanic Gardens. We will meet at Holy Comforter at 9:00 am and travel to the site together. Please, let Laurel in the Parish Office know if you are interested in going at or 847-251-6120.