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Deer Isle
Originally published in Compass, May 16, 2013
Places, spaces explored by Rev. McCall at recent talk

Author Rob McCall

Author Rob McCall speaks to a group of nearly 50 people about sense of place and the natural world.

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by Jessica Brophy

Having a sense of place includes exploring the joy, beauty and wonder of where you live, said author and minister Rob McCall at the Deer Isle Congregational Church. McCall spoke to nearly 50 people about place in a presentation sponsored by the Island Heritage Trust.

IHT is also sponsoring a seven-week workshop on place with a focus on developing a sense of care and ethic toward place and the environment.

“Place is often invisible or intangible to have sense of place because it’s so close to you,” said McCall. This is especially true for people who may live in the same place all their lives, said McCall. But many people who move to a new place develop an acute sense of place and are highly aware of place.

Some spaces are non-places, McCall said. McCall described a trip to a big box store.

“These spaces look so much alike, you could be anywhere in the world,” said McCall. The products are the same, he said, and there’s no interaction between the store and its environment. “No one would call us by name or smile unless they were being paid to do so. It’s a place that could be anyplace, a no-place,” said McCall.

One of the problems today, he continued, is that there is an emphasis on the mind-body split, and that society has driven the sacred out of nature. Once nature isn’t sacred, it’s easier to abuse.

“This causes a profound sense of loneliness,” said McCall. And that isolation from nature is taking its toll, he continued.

“We lose the sense of the symphony of the cosmos,” he continued. “We lose sight of the effulgence of the world.”

McCall then encouraged those present to stop thinking about the environment as manufactured by some distant chemical engineer, but rather as an organic, living whole.

“The world is a self-creating, living party to which you belong,” said McCall. “We need to get rid of the idea that we are just some insignificant gear that can be replaced.”

Instead, McCall encouraged those present to feel inspired, healed and “forever at home in the great body of nature.”