Mary DeJong lives in Seattle, Washington’s Rainier Valley in Columbia City, at Hedgewood, a home that for over a decade has hosted community connection through the reclamation and restoration of a neighborhood forest. As a long-time urban naturalist, and practitioner and guide of place-based pilgrimage, DeJong’s graduate work in ecotheology from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and specialization in Thomas Berry’s Universe Story from Yale University delves into why place matters and the sacramentality of creation. Mary has grown up in the Pacific Northwest, taprooting into a soul-nourishing topography that fastens her to ancestors who lived among the towering mountains and ancient trees within the Skykomish Valley corridor, homesteading a town that continues the arc of history of this place, one that was beloved by the Skykomish tribe before European settlers arrived, and one that continues to serve as a sacred connection to the awe and wonder of the natural world.
She is the co-founder and chair of the Friends of Cheasty Greenspace at Mountain View, an award-winning neighborhood organization committed to creating equitable, safe, and welcoming hyper-local access to nature and play within public forests for urban children and families. This effort to reclaim, restore, and reimagine this 43 acre urban forested parkland began in 2007 and has engaged thousands of volunteer service hours, making it one of Seattle’s most popular service sites in the city. This effort awarded Mary and her volunteers the prestigious 2013 Denny Award for Conservation and Environmental Stewardship.
Influenced by the lives of Celtic saints, Jospeh Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and the emerging field of ecopyschology, Mary facilitates retreats and pilgrimages in the Pacific Northwest and in Iona, Scotland, that strengthen the unique and mystical interconnection of participants, the sacred, and the natural world. She has studied and practiced within the Celtic Christian spiritual tradition, her own maternal line heritage, for over twenty years, receiving mentoring and vocational guidance from Vivienne Hull, co-founder of the Chinook Learning center and the Whidbey Institute and the director of the Iona Retreat Programs.
Mary’s book, Waymarkers (2011), is heralded by pilgrims globally who long to journey to Iona with intention and purpose. More of Mary’s writings can be found at A Sacred Journey, The Other Journal, the Godspace writing community, and the Waymarkers Blog.
Her husband Joel DeJong, four children, ten chickens, medicinal and herb garden, and yard—a Certified Wildlife Habitat—keep her busy when her pen does not.