This series combines regular spiritual practices throughout Lent with four online gatherings, engaging one another and ideas from the book Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred by Victoria Loorz.
“In a climate where winter lasts six months, we always search assiduously for signs of spring, but never more eagerly than after we decided to make syrup.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
“People exploit what they have merely concluded to be of value, but they defend what they love. To defend what we love we need a particularizing language, for we love what we particularly know.” – Wendell Berry
The Lenten season coincides with the cusp of winter and spring. In and around Maine (and other places, too) this is a time of sugaring, and of lengthening days. With these seasonal markers in mind, we approach Lent with this question:
How might we sweeten and deepen our relationship with the particular places which ground and inspire our devotion to the world?
We invite you to join us this Lent as we engage that question through:
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote “All of us know that our beautiful green planet is in danger. Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. So let us pause. Let us listen. May we hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet.”
How do we ‘hear the bells of mindfulness’ – and how do we wake up, and stay awake? The words of Thich Nhat Hanh call us to daily practices to deepen our relationship with the place we call home - through observation, reflection, conversation and experiences.
For participants in our Courting the Particular Lenten series, we will provide guidance and a community of support to share in spiritual practices that connect us to Earth and its care. Through this shared commitment we aim to wake up and tune our awareness, noticing the world around us, in all its glory and brokenness.
Victoria Loorz writes about the process of falling in love with Earth: “You are allured to pay attention and enter into conversation with a particular being, a particular place. And then, through fidelity and time and a thousand small acts of kindness and reciprocal giving and receiving, you fall in love… This is a courtship of the particular.”
During our online gatherings – every other Tuesday throughout Lent – we will reflect and share as a community about our own personal practices of courting particular encounters with nearby nature. We will also engage with other ideas and insights from Church of the Wild: How Nature Invited Us into the Sacred.
We encourage you to have your copy of Church of the Wild close at hand – whether you have already read the book or would like to read along during Lent. But it’s important to note that this series is not designed as a formal book study group or as a series of “how-to” workshops. Rather this will be a community of practice for those who are seeking to be more faithfully and actively earthbound creatures.
With an ecospiritual lens on biblical narratives and a fresh look at a community larger than our own species, Church of the Wild uncovers the wild roots of faith and helps us deepen our commitment to a suffering earth by falling in love with it – and calling it church. Through mystical encounters with wild deer, whispers from a scrubby oak tree, wordless conversation with a cougar, and more, Loorz helps us connect to a love that literally holds the world together – a love that calls us into communion with all creatures.