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Nature, Spirit and Power Tools: A Look at "Deep Biophilia"

Karen Hust, Ph.D. | Nature-Connection Mentor and Interfaith Spiritual Director

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In “Nature, Spirit, and Power Tools,” artist, nature-connection mentor and interfaith spiritual director Karen Hust offered a moving personal essay about the value of nature and spirit as analyzed through the lens of three different biophilic experiences.

“I’m not a scientist, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a designer. But I’ve been thinking about this problem of the human-nature bond pretty much all my life. And that path has led me to some unexpected conclusions about nature and spirit.” In her work, Hust has chosen to open herself to the mystery of nature. “My goal is to demystify the spiritual level of wellness so that it can deepen all of our work.”

In her first example, Hust told the story of how she decided to turn the fallen branches outside her house into artistic chair designs that have helped her realize her place in the natural world. In these projects, she combines her handspun yarn and tapestries with chairs made of different tree species. These chairs represent different natural energies and one of eight points in the cycle of a day, a year or the directions on a compass. “When I told my husband about my plan he said, ‘It’s perfect for you—nature, spirit, and power tools!’”

In her second story, Hust told how she remodeled her 50-year-old Seattle home into a living building. “The materials, the history and the beauty of this place were just too valuable to waste. From the first moment we walked into our future project we knew it was a building that could teach us about living in harmony with its land.” By integrating natural elements into the building’s structure, Hust was able to build a home that brought her even closer to her environment. “What is truly awe-inspiring is the feeling of living more literally in alignment with the wheel of the year. Binding ourselves to use only the power of the sun and only the water that rains from the clouds.”

Her final example, Hust shared the Strolls for Well-Being Program at Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre plot of forests and gardens designed to be a healing resource for guests who can take self-guided walks through the grounds and use the time to connect to themselves and nature.

“Participants are invited to open up to the awareness of what they’re experiencing, to reflect on their lives and to connect that feeling that they have in nature to a larger personal meaning.” Originally a participant, Hust now volunteers and teaches at the Reserve, choosing to dedicate her time to help others find a connection to nature just as she has.

“The more we can recognize our participation in the order of nature, the more we can feel underlying confidence that things tend toward an ultimate balance, no matter how turbulent the present may be. And thus we see how important spiritual questions are to biophilia. Because feeling at home in a world that ultimately makes sense is exactly what nature connection is about.”


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Karen Hust, Ph.D.

About the Speaker

Karen Hust has been exploring and sharing nature connection in many ways over the years: as a college teacher of nature literature, as a muddy outdoor education assistant, as a rustic artist working with windfallen branches. Currently completing a certificate in interfaith spiritual guidance, she will offer companionship to those seeking to ground their quest for meaning in a deeper sense of belonging within their home place in nature.