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« The Launch of "Eco-Ministry for Life on Earth" Course »

Eco-spirituality is a core element in Earth-size living. So it was a special experience to be part of launching the Eco-Ministry program at the Chaplaincy Institute, an Interfaith Seminary and Community in Berkeley, California, this past April. The Institute structures units of learning in 4-5 day modules. The “Eco-Ministry for Life on Earth” module included among its faculty a rich mix: two Indigenous women, two scientists, a designer-artist, a theolgian, an educator, two farmers, and a spiritual director. Rituals and interactive experiences added lots of opportunity for our right brains to be engaged.

One day we took a field trip to Canticle Farm, an urban farm in Oakland, where eco-ministry shapes life for residents in a way that mixes the science and art of growing food with beauty, radical liturgy, and meditation.

We concluded another day with Corrina Gould (Ohlone) who took us to the site of a shellmound (Indian burial site) now a blacktop parking lot. BUT, in a vibrant and courageous form of eco-ministry, Corrina plans that it will one day be part of the Segorea Te’ Land Trust and a site of education about the historic and continuing importance of the Ohlone people in the area.

Around the globe, we are in a time of waking up. We are waking up to a lot we didn’t want to believe we’d have to face, but here we are. We are waking up to the pain of being terribly disconnected from the deeper life of our planet and her species. We are waking up to the need for a radically different way of thinking, being, and acting. The module at the Chaplaincy Institute was a training in the time of waking up.

My three hour segment was on economics, ecology, and spirituality. It was described in advance like this:

Consider that chaplaincy most commonly focuses on accompanying people; eco-chaplaincy expands that focus to include Earth and all her inhabitants. At the core of today’s global economics is that growth is good. Yet, Earth and her inhabitants cry in pain because of this growth. Both capitalist and socialist economies require it. Accordingly, the need for eco-chaplaincy is peaking in this century. What is the spirituality that eco-ministry can use to accompany people who know they must move away from capitalism, socialism, or any model of economics that relies on growth? The economics of sacred texts and of the Spirit are commonly not capitalist or socialist. This gives us many touch-points between eco-ministry and both the destructive and creative powers of economics. 

Eco-ministry sees that healing eco-regions links closely with healing our other relationships. Eco-ministry recognizes that Earth and other species care for us and want to connect with us. It’s a different posture than thinking it is all up to us to care for Earth and other species. The mutuality, the interdependence matters most. It is a radical interconnection that counters the prevailing worldview. Training in eco-ministry opens our eyes and hearts to see and feel this interconnection. Often we recognize it when we sense our disconnection from Earth and other species. Eco-ministry retrains us for reconnection. It seeks healing for the disconnection, using ritual, meditation, reshaping of our habits, and more.

Finally, eco-ministry is interfaith. Every faith tradition can bring wisdom from the culture that birthed it and the thinking and practices that sustain it. It’s also true that eco-spirituality can be an eclectic mix of traditions that shape fearless, loving, and informed people to engage with Earth and all her inhabitants in an eco-ministry for holistic, Earth-size living.

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