Convocation 2023
Kinship: Re-Weaving the Great Web of Belonging

Learn about our Creative / Contemplative Immersion Sessions

Sacred Sylvan Saunter
Kimberly Knight, MDiv • View bio

One of the first steps to healing our climate-changed world is to reconnect with nature and remember our place in the kinship of all beings. You are invited to join ANFT Certified Nature Therapy Guide Kimberly Knight, MDiv for a gentle, forest bathing walk on the grounds of our beautiful Convocation site. Forest Bathing is a gentle, mindful, walk in nature inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, an intentional practice of mindful nature immersion developed to treat stress-related illnesses.
For our 1.5-hour walk with the land, we will slow down, awaken our senses, and nourish our relationship with the more-than-human world through a series of gentle, sensory invitations. As we saunter, we will open ourselves to the sacredness of creation by connecting with the sights, smells, sounds, textures, and tastes of the earth. A good portion of our time together will be in silence. This offers you the opportunity to experience the forest and to connect with others who want to experience nature fully and deeply. By choosing to stay away from friendly chit-chat and exploring what it’s like to walk in nature without speaking, we have a chance to engage our senses more fully and to truly connect with the natural world.
Participants are encouraged to dress comfortably for walking on natural terrains. Feel free to bring a water bottle, but little else so you are unencumbered for your walk. Participants will be asked to silence and pocket their phones for the duration of the saunter.

Poetry, Scripture and the Language of Holy Confusion
Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes • View bio

Our everyday use of language tends toward dissection. We cut the world up into this and that. It's a function of dualistic thinking in which everything means this and not that. Ideas, beliefs, descriptions are all ways of distinguishing something from everything else. Science and law are at the extreme end of the spectrum, with excruciating detail. But we all talk like that, a little. We mean to say what we mean to say, not something else. Poetry and scripture aren't like that. Because the world isn't like that. There's only one thing, and we're all part of it. It's an ecology, an interrelated web. Each bit of the world is a distinct bit, yes, but a bit of a whole. Everything has something of everything else in it. We are all part of the Body of Christ, the ecosystem of God. We are all con-fused. Poetry and scripture (all scripture!) are the language of interrelatedness, the native tongue of paradox. They don't dissect; they weave. They connect things. They say more than they mean to say. They work through symbol, allusion, metaphor and muscle memory. And they work on more than one level, especially in the unconscious. A parable, for example, is a paradox, meant to confuse you (that is, to contradict your dualistic assumptions and fuse you with the whole). In this creative immersion we'll explore ways of reading scripture as poetry, which means weaving instead of dissecting, which means entering into holy confusion, which means a different kind of clarity, which means prayer.

Hope Is Not Optional
Rev. Dr. Andi Lloyd & Rev. Andy Nagy-Benson • View bios

Hope is not optional in a time of climate change. Hope is what keeps us working toward a future of mutual flourishing, even when the path ahead is unclear. Hope looks clear-eyed at the world as it is, then lifts our gaze to the horizon of what could be. This contemplative immersion experience stems from the recognition that while hope can be difficult to find in the throes of existential crisis, its seeds are meant to be sown and grown in community. In our time together, we will explore our own relationships with hope — Where do we find hope? What comes between us and our hope? And in the spirit of cultivating hope, we will step outside to engage in a directed spiritual practice of attentiveness and journaling.

Moving from 2 to Infinity: Learning from Hindu perspectives 
Preeta Banerjee, PhD • View bio

In re-weaving the great web of our belonging, it is foundational to reconnect with the Divine Masculine, the Divine Feminine and the intertwining of the two that opens up all possibilities and helps us hold paradox and healing. In this embodied and experiential session, we will move to poetry, express in art to music and explore beyond false binaries supported by practices / teachings offered from the Hindu worldview and Shakta (Goddess worship) traditions. 

Music in Relationship
Rev. Liz Fulmer • View bio

Music heals, inspires, motivates, soothes. It expresses ideas, delights souls, and energizes the body, causing toes to tap and knees to bounce. And when we listen to or create music together, it fosters playfulness, possibility, and ultimately, increased relationship. In this creative immersion, participants will be gently encouraged to play, write, sing, and listen while guided through a series of hands-on activities, from drumming to journaling to improvising. As the group explores harmony and dissonance, rhythmic synchronization and syncopation, we will consider how music reflects back to us the world in which we live, as well as how music can help us imagine what the world could be

Nurturing Kinship Through Contemplative Chant
Rebecca Kneale Gould, PhD • View bio

Chanting is a practice with roots in religious and wisdom traditions all across the globe. It is an embodied practice that settles the mind and opens the heart.  Wordless chants allow us to sink into a meditative space, while chants focused on just a few words of sacred text often enable us to gain new insights into the meanings of those texts for our own lives.

In this contemplative immersion, we will learn sacred chants that are grounded in the Psalms and the words of the Prophets. We will chant in both English and Hebrew (keeping it simple) focusing on chants that evoke and enhance our connections with the natural world.  We will then take those chants out into that world, using chants of praise and consolation to connect with the rocks, trees, grasses and sea-breezes. We will weave some text study into our time together and will also take a step back to talk about what we have done, how it feels and how we might want to take chant into our own lives and sacred communities.

In The Stillness  
Marpheen Chann • View bio

We often think of quietude, peace, and stillness as experiences we have alone, as individuals. And indeed we glean and learn a great deal from solitude. When we think of community and togetherness, often times it's thought of as song, dance, worship, entertainment. In other words noise. But think back to those moments of quiet spent in communion with a friend or loved one and the quality of that quiet time. In this session, you are invited to spend quality quiet time — in stillness, meditation, relflection, whatever you wish to call it — with brief microbreaks to share what each of us has seen, heard, or experienced. 
Through this practice, participants will offer up their perspectives and experience with a shared moment of stillness, while opening up to hear the perspective and experience of others with that same shared moment of stillness. 

Wisdom Where Farm & Wild Meet  
Rev. Holly Morrison • View bio

"Brother Benno complained to the Abbot, 'the noise of the frogs is drowning out our psalm-singing!' The Abbot replied, 'perhaps their croaking chorus is even more pleasing to the ears of God.'"
This story from the Celtic Christian tradition echoes many Indigenous understandings of the whole of Creation as a source of accountability, wisdom, and revelation.  Those of us who tend the land are drawn into this dialogue on a daily basis, as weather, weeds, and other wild variables remind us that our will is not sovereign, and our ways are often less wise — and less persuasive — than Nature's ways.
During this session,  participants will be invited to explore and engage the wisdom of the Web of Life where farm and wild lands meet. We will make time to set aside our human agendas and listen to the land. We will make space for holy play as we learn from our more-than-human neighbors and relations and craft creative responses to convey the wisdom we receive.