Connecting with our Sacred Earth
14th June 2021
By Judith Keller
Bethany South and I offered an online Contemplative Eremos Book Group for 8 weeks from February to March using the book, Earth Our Original Monastery as a guide. We sought to engage in both reflection around the text and practices in the book, inviting the cultivation of wonder and gratitude through time spent in nature. These practices ranged across meditation, contemplative walking, the use of visual earth arts such as the creation of cairns, earth altars, and sacred photography. Invitations to poetry and prayer, and to engage in sacred writing explorations were also included. Each week a session schedule was emailed to the group together with additional resources with which participants could engage, relevant to the chapter.
In the online gatherings there were centering meditations, chapter summaries and breakout groups for reporting on various practices that individual members wished to share. Each week various members volunteered for the roles of acknowledgement of country and the chapter content summaries. These were graciously offered and carefully observed.
Most weeks we had about 15 people so breakout rooms allowed for all to share their insights and reflections in smaller groups. A Facebook page offered additional opportunities for people to post items of interest, including photography and written offerings. Some of the photos are included on this page.
In later sessions we included some brief earth centred rituals in which the group could collectively engage and were taken from Margie Abbott’s book, Cosmic Sparks. There were two sessions arising from the book which tapped into earth lament and despair for climate impacts.
As the book is set in northern European context, attention was frequently directed at Indigenous Australians and current interest in many in the group in including indigenous wisdom and sources and this emerged as a rich aspect of our time together woven through sessions.
In the final session people expressed what the time together had meant for them. Observations ranged from gratitude for the opportunity to have sustained time with a group of people with intentional focus, to deepening into earth centred practices offered through the book. It was moving and enriching to listen to the personal expression of insight and engagement with the text itself and/or the weekly practice. A number of participants share some of their experiences below.
Bethany and I are open to future possibilities to work together and welcome feedback from others about what you might like to see in the future. We both valued the opportunity to offer this experience and are grateful to all the participants who shared of themselves.
Thanks to the group members who provided photos to share with this story.
Some Reflections from Contemplative Book Group participants
- It’s been wonderful to be able to discuss with others new ways of relating to and connecting with our sacred earth. Thanks to Bethany and Judith for facilitating this interesting book discussion so well. --Janet.
- I just loved the book and have a new life changing appreciation of our magnificent EARTH home. I also enjoyed many of the reflections and tasks associated with the various chapters. -- Sue.
- I loved being part of this community of practice. Knowing that we would gather weekly has been a real call to be present. It’s offered me new insights and ways of journeying, but mostly it’s been a powerful reminder of the many people around the country and around the world I’m sure, who are working for a kinder and more regenerative world. Judith and Bethany supported us all so beautifully in a safe crucible of discovery and adventure. Much gratitude. -- Astrid.
- Through participating in this reflective book group of Christine Valters Paintner’s ‘Earth Our Original Monastery’, my appreciation of the divine presence in all living things was heightened as was my capacity to enter in, to participate, in creation. Judith and Bethany guided us sensitively and provided a rich array of practices to enhance the overall experience. -- Jennifer.
- Being part of the ‘Earth Our Original Monastery' Reading group was a wonderful opportunity to journey deeply with others (historical and current) exploring our connection with Spirit and the Earth and to develop ongoing soulful practice. -- Bridget
- I thoroughly enjoyed the contemplative book group with its gentle practices leading me to a deeper reverence for Earth our sacred home. Sharing within the sessions brought further understanding and enriched the experience. -- Lindy.
- I’m most grateful that participation through reading, practising, and sharing in this online Reading Group resulted in a significant deepening of my relationship with our cosmic God. -- Bob.
- It was great to connect and share experience with others of the same spirituality approach. I left feeling confirmed in my existing practices and encouraged to go deeper and be more intentional in these. -- Petrina.
- I found the online Reading Group around ‘Earth Our Original Monastery’ inspiring and collaborative. Reading the book and listening to the insights of others was, for me, a sacred experience. -- Denise.