On a path with God

News | March 10, 2016

They set out on a scavenger hunt on the grounds of St. Paul and in Vander Veer Park, using clues and Bible verses to find as many items as they could in nature.

A few examples:

Whether a boulder or piece of gravel: I Samuel 2:2. It won’t last long, so get it while it’s green: Isa. 40:8. Something the same color as Esau: Gen. 25:25 9. Because a healthy tree yields a lot of this: Ps 1:3 14. Something the same color as the hem on the priests’ garments: Ex. 28:33 15.

One group of St. Paul confirmation students and their leaders are learning about the naturalist pathway this Lenten season. Each student had the opportunity to choose one pathway to explore during their Wednesday evening gatherings.

“As people who connect with God through nature,” Pastor Sara Olson-Smith told the naturalists this week, “we have a particular incentive to care for nature.” Before setting out on the scavenger hunt, theywatched a video clip from the group Protect Our Winters, a nonprofit organization of snow sports enthusiasts fighting against climate change.


The naturalist pathway is one of six pathways explored during the five Wednesdays of Lent, with specific activities around St. Paul.

The contemplative pathway provides opportunities to connect with God through quiet, reflection, and intentional stillness. We feel God’s presence by stopping all the “doing” and concentrating on being present. During the five weeks of Lent, this pathway has included experiences of centering prayer, meditation, a yoga-type moving prayer, and contemplative worship.

The relational pathway acknowledges that God communicates and connects to us through other people. By sharing stories with one another, we gain insight into who God is and how our stories are part of God’s story. During Lent, students who chose this pathway meet each week in Fellowship Hall to share a meal and have a conversation about life and faith with a St. Paul member.

The activist pathway connects us to God through service. Students who chose this pathway are a part of teams serving in a variety of ways at St. Paul. Jobs so far have included serving meals, ushering, and baking cookies.

The intellectual pathway highlights how God comes to us through learning. People who embrace this pathway find their faith is fed through good teaching, reading, thinking, and discussion. Students on this pathway experience God as they study the last week of the life of Jesus.

The artistic pathway finds a connection to God through visual and performing arts. Art that we see and hear can connect us with God, but when we express ourselves through art, we join God as co-creators.  During Lent, those who chose this pathway join the youth choir in rehearsal and leading worship during the Lenten worship services.

The naturalist pathway is about connecting with God through the wonder of creation. This will be a time for adventure and discovery. The group has spent the bulk of their time outside, with some additional activities to help sense God’s creative power.

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