All creatures innately understand how to inhabit Earth and exist in their fullness – that is, all creatures but us. In an age of environmental disconnect, the present task of humanity is to reclaim our creatureliness and reorient ourselves in relation with the more-than-human world. In July we partnered with three eco-spiritual practitioners, Tyler Mark Nelson, Meredith Barges, and Caity Stuart, to guide a group of spiritual leaders* on a day-long exploration of what it means to be creatures among creatures in an interconnected world. We met at Gilsland Farm for a day of creative and contemplative engagement with our co-inhabitant kin.
During this Wonder & Wander experience we considered our relationships within the more-than-human world. We immersed ourselves in the sights and sounds of birds, practice befriending other-than-human persons, and creatively expressed our own eco-prayer languages.
If you are not able to join us for this retreat and are interested in earthy connection as a spiritual practice, check out our Earthbound Practices and stay tuned for future offerings of wild spirituality from The BTS Center.
*We define “spiritual leaders” broadly to include not only clergy and other faith leaders, but also dedicated laypersons, nonprofit leaders, chaplains, spiritual directors, students, university and seminary faculty, denominational executives, and others with a committed and world-engaging spiritual practice.
Tyler Mark Nelson (he/him) is a Master of Divinity candidate at Yale Divinity School working at the convergence of religion and ecology. His research explores theologies of creation, eco-liturgical practices, and the ways that beliefs, attitudes, and language about creatureliness shape our perceptions and ethics of human-nonhuman relationships. Prior to his graduate studies, Tyler worked in horticulture, including roles in human resources and sales at a Midwestern greenhouse, operations of the Whitworth University vermiculture and compost program, and laborer at an organic lavender farm in eastern Washington. For rejuvenation, Tyler and his wife Sara backpack all four seasons, tend their garden, and share meals and coffee with their community.
Meredith Barges (she/her) is a Master of Divinity candidate at Yale Divinity School exploring ways to support healthy communities through wellness, food outreach, and green spaces. As Co-Chair of Lights Out Connecticut, she helped to convince Yale Divinity School to limit excess lighting during peak bird migration. She is the recipient of a LEAP grant from the Yale Law School to help make Yale University more bird friendly. For nearly 10 years, she has bird watched in New York and Vermont while promoting local bird and wildlife advocacy programs. Meredith received an MA in Cultural History from the University of Chicago and a BA in English from Smith College.
Caity Stuart (she/her) is a Master of Divinity candidate at Yale Divinity School studying the intersection of ecology and spirituality. Before coming to Yale, Caity worked as an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service, as the Digital Marketing Manager for the award-winning B Corp company W.S. Badger Co., and received her Masters of Science in Environmental Education from Antioch University New England. As an environmental communicator dedicated to building hope-filled communities, Caity is passionate about creating accessible ways to spiritually navigate the climate crisis. Outside of school, you can find Caity letterpress printing, gardening with friends, or eating really good food.
Situated along the Presumpscot River estuary just five minutes from Portland, Maine Audubon’s headquarters features an environmental education center and a 65-acre sanctuary with more than two miles of trails winding along a pond and through forest, meadow, orchard, and salt marsh. Click here to learn more about Gilsland Farm.