Soulful Nature: Mapping the Landscape From the Outside In

Chair: Sally Welch


Nature isn't just good for us. We're part of it: created within the rhythms, seasons and cycles of God's good Creation. Little wonder, then, that we can feel disconnected from our own 'soulful nature' when we're cut off from the natural world; and that the soul can stir profoundly when we step back outside to behold nature's beauty and wisdom.


Brian Draper took 12 ‘soulful’ walks over 12 months with the botanist (and co-author of Soulful Nature) Howard Green to seek richer connection - ‘communion’ - between the great outdoors and the inner life. 


And in this talk, he reflects on what he learned from the ancient footpaths, riversides and even city-pavements they trod - of how the space between the branches of a tree can open space within us, how facing the darkness of the winter solstice can bring hope and healing, how the physical and spiritual landscapes embrace to create something so mysteriously ‘more’ …


Optional extra: join Brian Draper for a ‘Soulful Saunter’

This circular two-hour ‘saunter’ with Brian is a mini walking retreat. He will take you from Winchester’s ancient cathedral, out of the city and through Winchester’s water-meadows. You’ll practice finding connection along the way with the the natural features of the landscape, to breathe the air, feel the ground beneath your feet and let your soul gently stir. You’ll pause for personal reflection, and use some mindful/soulful practice - bringing contemplative prayer into your physical movement, for instance - to help you step more deeply into the sacred space around you and within you. Whatever the weather!


The walk is roughly three miles long, on relatively flat terrain. We’ll be stopping and starting along the way, so bring warm clothing, wet weather gear and walking shoes as some of the paths may be muddy in February! We meet outside the cathedral’s main entrance at 12pm, and will back to the cathedral by 2pm, in good time for you to enjoy the afternoon sessions of the festival.



Spaces on the walk are strictly limited: to join, book a combined ticket for both walk and lecture.


Students and under-18s are eligible for half price tickets. Select the student option when booking.


10.00am Saturday 25 February 2023


Brian Draper

Brian Draper is co-author with Howard Green of Soulful Nature: A Spiritual Field Guide (Canterbury Press, 2020), Soulfulness: Deepening the Mindful Life (Hodder Faith, 2018), Less is More: Spirituality for Busy Lives (Lion Hudson, 2012) and (among others) Spiritual Intelligence: A New Way of Being (Lion Hudson 2009).

He’s a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, works with organisations to nurture ‘soulful leadership’ (often using labyrinths), and loves to lead walking retreats. Clare Balding joined him for her Radio 4 Ramblings programme, and said that ‘A walk with Brian helps you see and hear more clearly, feel with a warmer heart and be a part of nature rather than just an observer.’


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