Earth Holder monthly online sangha

Our friends at Earth Holders Sangha (Plum Village Tradition) hold a monthly call on Second Sundays.   Listen to past meetings on their YouTube channel.

The first online Sangha of 2019 is organized around the theme: “Renewing Ourselves in the New Year as Earth Holders,” and will be facilitated by Stephanie Knox Steiner.

Please join 9 AM PT/ 11 AM ET and 5 PM GMT, January 13, 2019.
Here is Stephanie’s description:

Happy new year, Earth Holders! The new year is an invitation for us to practice gratitude for the year that passed, dwell happily in the present moment, and reflect upon and refresh our aspirations as Earth Holders. In Sunday’s practice, we will have the chance to renew ourselves
through practicing guided meditation, reflection, and dharma sharing as we welcome the new year.

For inspiration before Sunday’s call, you may wish to read the Christmas letter from Plum Village, watch this new year’s dharma talk from Thay in 2013, or review the 6 Earth Holder Pledges and the Earth Peace Treaty.

About our facilitator: Stephanie Knox Steiner (True Earth Dwelling) ordained as a member of the Order of Interbeing and joined the Earth Holder caretaking council in 2017. She has been working in the area of peace and nonviolence education since 2009, including teaching college classes on sustainability and environmental justice. Stephanie has a masters degree in Peace Education from the University for Peace, and is currently working towards her doctorate in Community, Liberation, Indigenous and Ecopsychologies at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her new favorite role is being mom to baby Daphne (born in June 2018), who provides a new inspiration for her work towards a peaceful, just, regenerative world.

Trees, Justice, and Faithful Learning

Bill Hemmerling, Friendship Trees

Our traditions refer to trees as rooted-and-reaching symbols, as wise teachers, or as important and respected resources. We have so much to learn from them.  In this post you will find several tree resources.  We’d like to do an additional post around our secular arbor day, so please share your favorite tree poems or stories (even if you’re sure we must have them!)

We begin with a poem we shared as the meditation at the end or our Sustained Advocacy call near Tu B’Shvat 2019, and continue with hands-on work PA IPL groups are leading, and two learning and worship resources.

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
After days of labor,
mute in my consternations,
I hear my song at last,
and I sing it. As we sing,
the day turns, the trees move.
                                —Wendell Berry

In several collections including This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems

Tu B’Shvat is a minor Jewish holy day that, in Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s words, “celebrates the bare beginnings pf the reawakening  of trees in mid-winter, and was seen by the 16th-century Kabbalists as the rebirth of that Tree of Life that has its roots in Heaven and its fruit in the existence and creativity of us — the whole of life.”

The festival itself and its amazing Seder come at the full moon on the 15th day of the Jewish lunar “moonth” of Shvat, this year from Sunday evening January 20 through sundown Monday January 21. That means it falls this year on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday.

Consider registering for the Shalom Center’s Tu B’Shvat webinar (webinar on January 9, 2019; Tu B’Shvat begins the evening of January 20, and is January 21this year — there are also webinars preparing for earth-climate-justice rooted Passover celebrations as part of their Sacred Seasons for Sacred Earth series.  The webinars include tools for holding your own celebration.

image source

Martin Luther King’s birthday (and birthday-as-observed) are always close to Tu B’Shvat on the calendar, but in 2019, they fall together.  While we focus on the struggle for civil rights for people of all races in our celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King and his work, in fact, the larger trajectory of his work was justice.  In 2014, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, then a board member of PA IPL, wrote this piece about the connections between the two holidays.

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade left Pennsylvania when she took a job teaching at Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky, but we remember her well, and are pleased to share this 8-week devotional connecting trees and faith “Healthy Trees, Healthy People, Healthy Faith”

intro   week 1   week 2   week 3   week 4
week 5  week 6  week 7  week 8

Each spring and fall, the Germantown Tree Tenders plant and tend urban trees in publicly-available space from sidewalks to houses of worship.  They do so in community, and often include opportunities to offer blessings and dedications (and sometimes chances for shared food together)

In Central Pennsylvania, under the energetic leadership of Greg Williams, groups of community members, the 3rd Way Collective from Penn State, congregants, and Central PA IPL regulars have been joining for work parties  to clear space for native trees and tender plants to thrive, adding diversity and resilience to our forest systems.  Much of this work has been removing invasive plants and staking out the beginnings of the native seedlings, but the have also done successful bareroot tree plantings, live staking (along the Juniata River), (over 600 trees in 2018!), as well as native wildflower meadow plantings.  Over time, inspired by a Joanna Macy practice called Honoring our Adversaries, they have challenged themselves to recognize and honor the tenacious and exuberant qualities of the very invasives they are working so hard to hold back so the diverse native plants can thrive.

We’ll close with this browsing link on tree writings over at Baha’i Teachings. 

St. Francis and the “universal house”

 This post by board member (and past president) Sylvia Neely first appeared on the Creation Corner page of  the Episcopal Church in Central Pennsylvania’s website.1913244_10106188579394174_2017794221_o

Some years ago, I was a member of a group at my church that got together to discuss environmental issues.  We read and discussed a book that somebody had recommended that I truly disliked.  Environmental questions were presented as cultural questions that required us to rethink the way we lived and that especially extolled eastern and Native American spiritual values.  I kept protesting to the group that we surely had strong Christian traditions that would help guide us to a better way of living in God’s creation.  Several years later, another group at the same church read a book that exemplified what I was looking for.

CareForCreationcoverThe book is entitled Care for Creation:  A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth.  Two of the authors are steeped in Franciscan learning.  Ilia Delio, O.S.F., is a professor and author.  Keith Douglass Warner, O.F.M., teaches in an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Institute.  The third author, Pamela Wood, is a retreat facilitator whose expertise provides a strong practical side to the book.  So the book, though challenging at times, balanced a strong understanding of science with a wonderful expression of Franciscan spirituality and the way to incorporate it into one’s life.

For me, one of the most important concepts discussed in the book was Continue reading St. Francis and the “universal house”