Otis & Friends 3I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

I would like to introduce you to my friend Steve Volesky, a volunteer who helps with event planning at Prairiewoods. Here are his thoughts on prayer …

Prayer comes in many forms. There are no guidelines or rules of decorum. One just needs to focus, meditate with thoughtfulness and purpose, and feel the connection with God. It does not have to be identified with a posture or word, a place or time, a religion or faith … just a presence and understanding that God is with us. It is not a once-a-day exercise to say it is done, but a continuous affirmation of a need; even with doubts at times, that if one lives in the moment they will seek to find some comfort and understanding of spirituality. A spirituality that is provided with a gratefulness to exist.

Traveling the world, experiencing diversity of cultures, learning of Earth’s living and non-living cycles and their interdependence, studying the complexities and commonalities of living things illustrates a master plan. Often times just being in awe of nature with its beauty and catastrophic events serves as an introduction to spirituality and a connection to God: a prayer with healing and gratefulness in a busy life and existence. It is being a partner and witness to an amazing planet Earth as a biosphere and a holy place. It is a home that elicits our love, thanks, support, reverence, healing, and humility. Our environmental understanding provides our spiritual uniqueness as a miracle in the universe: a place of contemplation as prayer.

Steve VoleskyPrairiewoods is a connection to God. It is a microcosm of our planet and a refuge with a past, present, and future to continue to learn and grow. It provides a symbiotic connection and rediscovery with nature and God. Volunteering has provided this self-fulfillment. It has helped me live a grateful life in the present moment with positive emotions that connect with the goodness around me. This fulfillment is dwarfed by the authentic and collective purpose and mission of the Prairiewoods staff. They impart a spiritual awakening with the love of the earth. It is this authenticity that projects and models ecological sustainability of the planet and conservation efforts in its preservation: our preservation with a look to the future. Rachel Carson writes:

“Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living. The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery, not over nature but of ourselves.”

Beginning in the 1990s to the present, volunteering has provided me an eco-spirituality and gratefulness in living and sharing at Prairiewoods. Rachel Carson would be pleased.

—Steve Volesky, volunteer