Exploring the relationship of Ecology & Spirituality
Empowering individuals and faith communities
to live and work in touch with the Earth
EarthLight is a magazine published quarterly by the Unity with Nature Committee
of the Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends [Quakers]
Study Guide for the issue on the theme of Health and Spirit [EL #24, Winter 1996-7] prepared by Sandra Moon Farley
EarthLight encourages active reading and discussion of the articles contained in each quarterly issue. We offer you some questions or queries to spark discussion or focus response. Study Guides are available through our web page or in print for $1.50 each. You may reproduce in limited quantity for educational purposes.
You may choose to use these queries as prompts for personal meditation, journal writing, or creative composition. It can be a pleasure, however, to gather a small group to share a discussion of the issue.
We suggest that if you meet, you should sit in silence for a minute [or five] at the beginning, letting the Spirit of God be with you in your circle. Choose an article or two to focus on in turn and allow some time for reflection between responses. Enjoy another moment of silent benediction [acknowledged oxymoron] at the conclusion of your session. Be mindful of the time and the attention capacity of your group. More than one session may be scheduled. There is plenty to think, meditate, and talk about.
- Page 3 The Oak
Have you ever met a very old tree and sensed its age and history? What would be some hopeful futures, 500 years hence for your region? Have you shared those ideas? Can you count yourself among the "Cultural Creatives?"
- Page 3 Headwaters
What have you done to lobby for the California Headwaters Forest or for other forests threatened by harvest? Have you helped to purchase portions of other forests or in other ways helped to protect old growth woodlands?
- Page 5 Tabasco
What happens when politics and exploitation ignore the needs and will of inhabitants? How can we support non-violent environmental struggles in developing nations without seeming to impose first world values?
- Page 5 Red List
What can we do with this information about endangered species?
- Page 6 Earth's Well-Being
How have you experienced the healing of being nurtured by nature? How do we make similar experiences accessible to many?
- Page 7 Health, Wholeness & the Body of God
How have you defined physical, mental, and spiritual health? Take a moment to contemplate, perhaps write down, where you see yourself fitting into the entirety of creation.
- Pages 8-9 Spirit as Resource
Recall a time when you were forgiven or when you forgave. What were the spiritual dynamics? And God said, "You make strangers, I don't make strangers." Where do you make strangers?
- Pages 10-11 Healing the Divided Soul
Do you feel that Theodore Roszak is promoting heathenism or animism when he says that with the exception of seasonal major depressive episode all psychological problems stem from the human world? Does our planet have a soul? Is your curiosity piqued to read more on ecopsychology?
- Pages 12-13 The Eleventh Commandment
Have you ever returned to a special place only to discover it has been defiled? Should certain places, holy ground, be kept especially clean? Is all the earth holy?
- Pages 14-15, 21 Zen, Ecology and the Inner Life
What motivates you in your environmental work? How much of it is anger? When have you or do you practice contemplation?
- Pages 16-17 Earth Saint Annie Dillard
In the third paragraph, Annie suggests she learn "mindlessness." How does this differ from the "mindfulness which is often the goal of contemplatives? Can you cite some examples of the extravagances of creation? If the giant waterbug was not made in jest, was it then made in earnest? What is behind creation? Our first living Earth saint, Annie Dillard sets a new precedent. Who among the living apostles of the spirit of earth would you nominate? Write to us!
- Pages 18-19 NACCE
Paul Burks sums up the 4 challenging 20th century developments posing questions for each. Answer them! Have you attended any conferences or retreats on the theme of spiritual connection with the environment?
- Page 20 Poetry
What a lovely collection of poems! Read each one aloud to someone of have it read to you.
- Page 22 Walking Gently
Read this poem with your shoes off.
- Page 23 Oh Great Spirit
Read this poem as a prayer. The Great Spirit has no hands but ours. How can we answer this prayer?
- Pages 22-23 Integrity & the Light Within
Quakers in various yearly meetings are considering whether unity with nature is a "concern" or or full blown "testimony." Louis and Ruah would probably prefer testimony to describe the level of commitment. What can you add to this process of discernment? Have you joined FCUN?
- Pages 24-25 Native Medicine
Have you ever developed a spiritual connection with a plant? What spiritual traditions and lore are in danger of being lost due to theft, loss, or forgetfulness?
- Pages 26-29 Reviews
Which of the six books reviewed have you already read? Which two are you most drawn to study? Why?
- Pages 30-31 Letters
If you read the fall issue, on food, you'll love this section! We invite your correspondence.
- Back Cover Compost Speaks
Active compost blurs the line between life and death. Can you share any other moments when that line has blurred for you?
We hope that these queries have served to enrich your experience with EarthLight. We welcome your comments and submission of articles and poems which may serve to deepen our connection between spirituality and ecology.
Address all correspondence to:
K. Lauren de Boer, Editor
Oakland, CA 94611 USA
list of Study Guides for recent issues.
list of selected articles from EarthLight#24
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