Once upon a time, our ancestors knew they were intimately connected to the land. Some of our contemporaries still know this. And some of us have forgotten... that the hawks and soil and thunder and oak trees are kindred spirits with whom we live together in sacred relationship.
Earth groans for our full re-engagement as participants in what Thich Nhat Hanh called the web of interbeing. As the systems of our culture and planet are unraveling, this moment in time is a call to remember that we belong to an inter-connecting web of life, a love story of relationship with an animate and alive world.
In this one day eco-spiritual retreat, participants reflected on the role that wilderness played in the ancient stories of our religious traditions. We were invited to wonder about the role of wild beings in our own spiritual development as we wandered in wildish places near our home. As we developed spiritual practices to reconnect with the Sacred through the natural world, we discovered our own deeper, more connected role in the Great Turning.
Listen for the alluring call of the sacred wild beckoning us to participate more fully in the holy conversation between all things.
Victoria Loorz, MDiv, is a spiritual director and the founding pastor of the first Church of the Wild, in Ojai, California and Echoes Wild Church in Bellingham, Washington. She co-founded and leads the ecumenical Wild Church Network, a North American cohort of wild church leaders. Victoria is co-founder, guide and director of Seminary of the Wild, which offers a yearlong Eco-Ministry Certificate program that supports spiritual leaders to say YES to their own ‘wild calling’ to serve all Creation. She also guides the Eco-Spiritual Direction program in collaboration with Stillpoint, which trains spiritual directors to include the natural world as co-companions on the spiritual journey. She is mother to two young adult children, Alec and Olivia, who are wise, creative, tender souls, dedicated to creating a more inclusive, compassionate, and just world.
Victoria’s book, Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites us into the Sacred, is scheduled to be released Fall 2021 through Broadleaf, Fortress Press. Learn more and pre-order here.
This retreat was offered by The BTS Center in partnership with Renewal in the Wilderness, a Maine-based organization committed to guiding encounters with wildness that strengthen cultures of compassion.
“A cascade of stories beautifully written, deeply personal and refreshingly human. They invite us to create a narrative together for a transformed people fitted to a changed Earth. Many of us have been waiting for this book. While it crisscrosses most everything, it’s concretely about transformed churches, seminaries and interfaith communities gathering to practice the future. Pass it on!”
Larry Rasmussen, ethicist, author, and Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary
“This book is a luminous love song to the Body of the Earth, a sober celebration of interconnection, an elegant entreaty and a bold proposal for a new way, the renewal of the ancient way, a way of healing and holiness and prophetic enkindling. This book is a prayer. Intelligently shaped and beautifully written. Highly recommended.”
Mirabai Starr, author of God of Love and Wild Mercy
“Victoria Loorz has written a breathtaking book, both bold and intimate, both erudite and immensely loving. She does for Christian belief what Robin Wall Kimmerer did for scientific Botany: invite it back into the ecstasy of a life lived together with all beings, into the poetry of sharing breath. Loorz has the gift of conveying profound messages in a light-hearted and light-footed –and outright beautiful –way, that makes it literally impossible to put down the book. “Church of the Wild” is a groundbreaking account of postdualistic religious experience, and an intoxicating temptation to allow yourself to love.”
Dr. Andreas Weber, biologist and author of Matter and Desire: An Erotic Ecology
“Victoria Loorz has brought us her truth-telling real "Kitchen Table" talk in this book. It is both deeply personal, inspirational and spiritually nourishing. As you turn each page you can feel yourself being called to get outside and connect with creation. Our natural altars—the trees, waters, the sun and the moon—are waiting to heal us! My ancestors, who were forced in captivity, would "steal away" in the woods to spend time praying, singing and dancing in order to withstand the brutality of the systemic racist caste system. Reading this book makes you question how did we end up boxing in our spiritual practice between the confines of four walls?”
Veronica Kyle, Co-founder of the EcoWomanist Institute
“Church of the Wild is about a very different church. It is an ekklesia/assembly of friends we don’t quite pay attention or listen to: birds, trees, flowers, air, waters, rocks, raccoons frogs, and so many other living beings. It is not a church in the wild, but an assembly of the wild. There we learn something about botanic sacramental relations, animal hymnodies, earth spiritualities, and through these learnings, encounter a wilderness that might be closer to us than our church buildings. Victoria Loorz’s story-telling of the wilderness offers a Christ-tradition language much needed for new dialogues, a path back to the parts of the Christian faith we have forgotten for centuries. Take and read, and let your body be-wild-ered!"
Cláudio Carvalhaes, theologian, liturgist, artist, and author of Liturgies from Below: Praying with People at the End of the World