Ecospirituality is an emerging field of study and interest among many religious traditions and communities as we continue to experience the effects of climate change. In her newly published introduction to the field, Dr. Rachel Wheeler defines ecospirituality as “how one relates to the sacred within the context of our natural, global, and even cosmic systems (or homes) of which we all form a part” (Ecospirituality: An Introduction). While the academic field is newly emerging, the natural world has deep roots in the Christian tradition. Central to the approach of ecospirituality is a call to care for the earth, especially in a time of ecological crisis.
Last semester, LCM expanded its offerings in ecospirituality, with a small group gathering on Monday nights and a one-day retreat through Holy Wisdom Monastery. Vicar Alex Linn, our 22-23 Seminary Intern, led the small group, Queer Eco-Theology. He encouraged students to seek out places where they are called to love through listening and action, and to think about their place in creation as well as their relation to one another. Framed around the three areas of soil, soul, and society, Vicar Alex encouraged students to critically consider questions such as: What is the natural world, and is it as dualistic as we think? How do we grieve, rejoice, and love our physical location? How do we experience God’s renewal and restoration in nature? How are we called to live into the redemption of creation today?
A few of the small group participants also attend the fall retreat with Pastor Emily and students from St. Francis Episcopal House at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisc. Led by the Benedictine Sisters, the retreat centered on developing an awareness of holy places and how rootedness in time and place opens us to deeper relationships with God and others. They also gathered seeds from the prairies to plant for future restoration efforts. At the end of the retreat, Pastor Emily noticed how the students were connecting even though most of them didn’t know each other previously, and how time out in the natural world encouraged them to slow down and reconnect with God’s creation.
Through these programs, we are encouraged by the inquisitive, hope-filled generation of students seeking out how their faith can address the ecological crisis and how they can deepen their connection to God and each other through the created world. Your generosity makes these experiences possible for our students and the future we’re co-creating together.