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Ecology of Awakening: Earth Immersion for Clergy and Spiritual Leaders

June 15 – 19, 2020
With continuing education credit provided by Pacific School of Religion

With Kerry Brady, Rev. Patricia de Jong, Gopal Dayaneni and Brock Dolman

Course description: Spiritual leaders emerging in this time of disruption, injustice and uncertainty face a great challenge- a challenge that requires a renewed sense of our callings as individuals and as communities. Ecology of Awakening: Earth Immersion is rooted in the call to create a resilient and thriving Earth community in support of a regenerative future. In this intensive, we will explore what it is to embody a faith based activism in defense of that which is life affirming for the whole. Together, we will live into the invitation before us: to open to the wonder of being part of a creative, living universe and to rediscover our deepest belonging. 

A core intention of the intensive is to ‘re-awaken’ to ourselves, to each other, to the land, to our inherent place within the larger unfolding web and to the impulse that calls each of us to be a regenerative presence to all of Life. In doing so, we support what cultural historian and “geologian” Thomas Berry called a ‘functional cosmology’, one that invites a practical, engaged and reverential relationship with a unifying origin story. We will open to what arises within our collective, including the ever-present grief of these times, in order to renew and revitalize the unique offering that is each of ours to bring to the world. As we become more adept at listening and responding to the creative intelligence of Life, within and without, we allow ourselves to be transformed and bolster our ability to transform larger systems, including the congregations and communities we serve. 

In our initial online meeting, we’ll be joined by Gopal Dayenani, who will guide us through imagining the qualities of a just transition, from an extractive economy to a regenerative one—where all beings co-exist peacefully and freely in balance with a thriving Earth. We will then live, for five days, in the rolling coastal hills of Occidental, CA in a spectacular endemic ecosystem marked by abundant wildlife, meandering creeks, prairie meadows, Sargent Cypress woodlands, conifer forests and serpentine chaparral. Here we will engage in ceremony and practices that will allow us to, as theologian Ched Myers says, “animate and nurture church renewal” in support of faith-based movements that encourage spiritual growth, societal transformation and care for the living Earth.

As a community, we will live and learn from the land, drawing from the new sciences, solo time on the land, nature-based processes, listening meditation, dream-work, somatic resiliency work, council practices, ceremony and other time-tested spiritual practices that usher us towards dissolving our borders and embodying our deepest belonging. In this mysterious and fertile ground, we will become courageously curious about our roles in ministry, community care, and how we might spiritually guide our faith groups into a place of similar awakening, connection, and action. Joining us is master biologist and naturalist, Brock Dolman, who will support us in deepening our connection with and our understanding of nature’s brilliance. Our fabulous chef, Nora, will nourish us with local, organic meals and her beaming presence!

Ecology of Awakening: Earth Immersion is designed with an explicitly intersectional approach that seeks to center the perspective of religious leaders living and working on the margins, and to recognize the ways in which people of color, indigenous people and people with other historically marginalized identities have historically been excluded from or invisiblized within environmental movements and communities focused on the land. We are also clear that retreats such as this will be more complete with diverse leadership going forward and look forward to supporting future journeys that will be led by a diversity of leaders, especially people of color, indigenous people, people with other historically marginalized identities and people from less represented faith traditions. We invite you to join us in creating a brave and supportive environment for all who are called.  

Course Format: The overall intensive consists of an initial Zoom call, a 5-day retreat in Western Sonoma County, California, and a final post retreat Zoom call to support our ability to bring what we have discovered into action in our lives, communities and ministries. 

Join us to:

  • Re-member our deepest identity as vast, and intimately connected with all Life; and consider how our role as spiritual leaders might help others to do the same
  • Immerse in deep ecology and living systems in support of our ability to think and act in partnership and attunement with Life
  • Explore the power of ceremony and embrace Earth-attuning practices that want to be born in us and for the communities we serve
  • Explore systems change and social transformation at individual and collective levels
  • Learn skills that ignite our innate resilience and build our capacity to be a compassionate presence in these times
  • Honor our grief
  • Bring deepened sense of grounding and connection to diverse forms of religious leadership. 
  • Envision and engage in individual and collective practices that protect and promote the flourishing of all living things and the system of relationships of which we are part. 
  • Connect with like-minded souls dedicated to creating a world where all beings have the right to co-exist peacefully in balance with the Earth
  • Be deeply nourished by local, seasonal and organic meals, in community

WHO IS THIS FOR: Ecology of Awakening: Earth Immersion is designed to embrace and support a diversity of faith leaders who have active ministries (widely defined), as well as those in seminary who are interested in re-imagining creative, regenerative religious leadership. We welcome those who are already on the forefront of shaping religious institutions as well as those who are primed for awakened transformation in their work. We welcome leaders who are in effective cultural islands or are more isolated from these kinds of opportunities, as well as those already steeped in this work. We welcome leaders from all religious traditions, all cultural and geographic locations, and all class backgrounds. We especially welcome leaders who identify as indigenous or people of color. 

The immersion is designed for those who have the capacity to move fluidly between inner/personal and outer/collective experience rather than for those who may, at this moment, be primarily focused on their own personal/trauma healing. While it is not designed primarily to promote personal healing or resolve issues, healing, personal clarity and deep connection can be natural outcomes of the process. 

We encourage all, especially religious leaders from marginalized backgrounds and traditions, to reach out with questions and concerns.

Please note there is an application process. Applications are now being received and are due April 15. All information is strictly confidential. We will let all applicants know if they have been accepted by April 24.

Note: In order to support greater intimacy and connection with the Earth, we will be sleeping in tents, living comfortably on the private piece of land we are fortunate to have access to. This is an opportunity to re-connect with our innate rhythm and re-discover our deepest belonging, where we are nourished and informed by the whole. Many who have never or seldom camp are deeply fed by the discovery of their love of being immersed on the land.

A limited number of special accommodations (pre-set up, roomy tents with padded cots) are available on a first come-first served basis for an extra $50/night for non-inclined campers or those with physical limitations. Please email info[a]ecologyofawakening.org to inquire about availability and to handle payment which is separate from registration. 

We seek to make this retreat available to all who are called: please note that you do not need to be in top physical shape to attend; yet we require that each person be in good physical, mental and emotional health. Other than one leisurely group walk, you are not required to hike/walk far, unless you want to. Please note, we will be camping on the land, which includes uneven terrain, and are therefore not wheelchair accessible. We will provide a list of equipment upon enrollment and can assist you with where to buy or borrow equipment if needed. 

DATES AND LOCATION: Monday, June 15. 12:00 PM – Friday, June 19, 1:00 PM 2020; as well as a pre-retreat Zoom call on Date TBD at 6:00 PM PDT and a post-retreat Zoom calls (Date TBD). Both Zoom calls will be recorded for those who are unable to make the dates, although we highly encourage you to be with us if possible. 

Private Land – Occidental, West Sonoma County, California 

GROUP SIZE: Maximum Number: 16

Tuition

Sliding scale $950 – $500; * scholarship support available, *see below

We aim to balance the actual cost of running programs with our commitment to make our offerings as accessible as possible to those who are called. Please know that our pricing greatly underestimates the number of hours that our team spends preparing, organizing and facilitating. Additionally, we keep our programs to a maximum of 16 in order to facilitate optimum engagement between guides, participants and what emerges while living in community on the land.

For Ecology of Awakening: Earth Immersion, we have put together a powerful curriculum, with highly regarded, seasoned faculty who have dedicated their lives to creating resilient and thriving human and Earth communities in their own unique ways. Tuition includes all course instruction, course materials, camping fee, guide support and local, organic meals prepared by our fabulous chef, Nora, who puts her whole heart into each meal. It does not include transportation costs to or from Occidental.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Riverstyx Foundation, we are able to offer this program with sliding scale fees as well as additional scholarship support. The sliding scale structure helps to make retreats more affordable for those who would not be able to attend otherwise. We encourage you to choose generously! 

Note that actual cost is $1,235 per person and that all tiers are set below basic cost.

  • $950
  • $785
  • $500

Scholarship Support:

We aim to price our program to support inclusivity and access. Thanks to financial support from the Riverstyx Foundation, we are able to offer assistance to those who are called to Ecology of Awakening: Earth Immersion and are currently limited in their finances. If you are called to the program yet unable to pay the above fees, we encourage you to apply for scholarship support, as we want to work with you.

Scholarships are contingent on the amount available, so best to inquire early. We take into account each individual circumstance and do our best to support each person’s needs. To request scholarship support, please fill out both the program application as well as the scholarship application

APPLICATION DEADLINE: April 15, 2020. 

We will let all applicants know if they have been accepted by April 24, 2020.