Awake to Something New

Reflection by Erika Dornfeld


Psalm 72

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.

May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.

May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.

May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.

May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.


Do you ever forget yourself in the woods? Get sucked in by the beauty, the heavy quiet? We lose track of time when we are marveling at the mundane. Sometimes we get so caught up, we forget the way we came! We get so used to being surrounded by harsh surfaces, linear silhouettes. Sounds reverberate and echo in our urban ecosystems.  We feel hyper-aware of our surroundings, knowing exactly when the light will turn or how close people are walking next to us. 

So when we go on a hike, it's a little startling. Surfaces are mossy, the ground has some give. We forget our city-selves. And when we do that, we are awake to new things. We are more alive, but in a way that is different from the hustle and bustle of an urban sidewalk. We forget, and we become able to marvel. We forget that we are supposed to be masters of the Earth and instead feel a part of it. 

We forget our domineering ways and instead are aware that we are but a speck in the galaxy. We walk in the woods and feel alive and awake to something new, but only because we are so good at forgetting. 

About Erika

Erika Dornfeld.jpg

Originally from Wyoming, Erika Dornfeld spent high school in rural north Idaho before attending Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. There she earned a BS in Biology, while minoring in both Religion and Publishing and Printing Arts. In 2009, she moved to the Midwest to do Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) in Chicago. After volunteering with LVC for two years in Chicago at an interfaith environmental organization, she attended the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her focus was on environmental ethics and theology from a post-modern perspective. In 2012, she received an international ministries study grant to survey faith-based ngo’s in Tanzania involved in climate change mitigation and adaptation. After graduating from Divinity School, Erika served as the director of the New Faces of Ministry Project, an initiative of the Center for Faith and Service at McCormick Seminary. She now serves as the Midwest Region Project Manager for Lutheran Volunteer Corps.

About University of Chicago Divinity School

University of Chicago Divinity School is recognized as part of Seminaries that Change the World 2016-17. To learn more about the Divinity School, visit their website at or view their Seminaries that Change the World profile.