September 9, 2014
The Million Acre School: Finding Healing Within the Landscape
Throughout history, many philosophers, explorers, scientists, and even spiritual leaders have shared one common trait—for millennia, they have immersed themselves in nature to discover the unknown.
They saw the unknown as the door to education.
From the Vikings, who sailed the Atlantic seas to explore new lands, to today’s botanists, who study the flora and fauna of the desert, people tend to look toward the land to learn something new. Today, we can even look at the land and its metallic ores which we have mined and transformed into amazing educational technologies.
But one discovery that seems to be underestimated by society is the individual potential for self-discovery. Farmers and ranchers have worked the land for centuries and have taught us the value of hard work, self-reliance, and peacefulness. In the land, people like Henry David Thoreau and John Muir have learned something about themselves and nature. They have shared with us a deeper understanding of human existence.
Propped against a vast landscape, these philosophers, explorers, and farmers, have come to know the magnificent power of the land.
To me, one of these powers is the power of healing.
The power to let go of your own human struggles and character weaknesses. To me, the land helps me find new solutions to old habits. When I was in my teenage years, this was especially true.
Explorer John Muir once said:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
Your cares—i.e. your flaws, your traumas, your setbacks—they’re all erased in the land. On the slopes of a mountain, in the shade of a pine, or in the heat of the desert, your struggles seem to melt away. The only thing on your mind is the immediate struggle—the climb over boulders or the lifting of hay bails.
That’s what makes Turn-About Ranch such an ideal location for self-discovery. In the heart of the deserts of Southern Utah, the Ranch is an oasis of healing. Against the backdrop of mixed sandstone, students learn, work, and recreate in millions of acres of the earth’s most therapeutic resource: the landscape itself.