What better way to celebrate
Earth
than to enjoy it.
And we did,
last Saturday—
a beautiful,
clear,
warm,
yes, breezy,
Oklahoma April day.
We learned about bees and other pollinators,
took the Cosmic Walk,
made seed bombs,
spun silky alpaca wool,
cooked in solar ovens,
discovered Smart Pots,
toured the house made of straw and mud,
walked the prairie labyrinth,
watched the goats and alpaca,
led children on a nature scavenger hunt,
climbed old Junipers,
danced, hilariously, to sweet fiddle music,
picnicked on grilled corn and bison hot dogs,
and thanked the Earth.

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May we be so attentive,
so appreciative,
so thoughtful about living our lives
with this magnificent planet
every
day.

It was my last semester
at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa
that I first made the Cosmic Walk.
It began to transform my understanding
of the planet and my part
living here.
To my horror,
I realized I’d been living in the world
with my “arrogant” eye, as Sallie McFague
writes in Super, Natural Christians.
I’d been seeing all of nature here
for human purposes. Good grief!
And that was less than 10 years ago.
I’m eternally grateful
for Elizabeth Box Price and that class
on “the new cosmology.” It changed life
for me.

So it was a privilege last Friday
to be invited to lead a spiritual formation retreat
with students at St. Paul’s School of Theology
at Oklahoma City University
around the theological and spiritual impacts
of exploring the new cosmology
through the Cosmic Walk
and discussion of the “arrogant eye”
and the “loving eye.” (McFague’s loving eye
sees nature through the lens of everything
in its own difference and detail,
having its own interests
apart
from humans’ interests.)

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What an engaged group of students,
willing to participate in the discussion,
but, most importantly,
to spend a couple of hours on the prairie
just outside Piedmont, Oklahoma,
noticing.
Noticing frogs, flies, butterflies, grasses,
plants, sky, wind…
Nothing could be more important,
in my view,
for our spiritual leaders,
our theological leaders
to know and love
the natural world.

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Thank you Dr. Amy Oden,
St. Paul’s professor of Early Christianity
and Spirituality,
for the opportunity!

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Youth from St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow
came Friday evening,
settled into the strawbale hermitage
and put up cots in the tipi
then checked out the moon and planets
through the telescope.
By early morning,
they were up early,
good scouts they also are,
and helped us set up
for the fifth annual Green Connections Earth Day Celebration.
They stayed all day,
and joined other guests engaging
in the events and activities,
meeting the animals,
touring the strawbale with Tom Temple,
and the solar shower,
which he set up again for the season;
walking the labyrinth,
sitting on the porch,
climbing trees,
visiting the high tunnel garden…

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The Transition OKC team
invited guests to make their own toothpaste
(mint or cinnamon)
and make bookmarks
using flower petals and other natural materials.

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Green Connections board members
Tom Temple, Bruce Johnson, Barbara Hagan,
Dorothy Gray volunteered all day.
Bruce cooked granola in the solar oven
and he and Barbara demonstrated
how efficient energy can be produced.
Our friend Deb Blakely taught
about wild bees and how to make a wild bee home.
Transition OKC team member Josh Buss
stepped up to build fires for the bison hot dog cooking
and grilled the corn on the cob.
Dave Conrad led a drum circle
that brought everyone into a zone
of relaxation and connection with Earth.
Patty and Bill Cummings and Matthew Hill
played fiddle music that heals the heart
and buoys the spirit.
Lisa Piccolo demonstrated the gentle art
of spinning alpaca fiber.
Tulsa Sierra Club members shared seeds
and Loblolly Pine seedlings.
Some walked the timeline of the creation of the universe,
the “Cosmic Walk.”
We joined together in a liturgy thanking all our Earth kin.

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The sun shone.
The breeze settled.
Late in the day I stood,
a bit apart,
for a moment
and reflected on this little scene:
People came to the prairie,
to a place where they could
for a day
spend time outdoors,
under a big sky,
learning, celebrating, being together,
being healed in the wind and the sun
and the quiet
alongside others. I’m not sure why
everyone made such an effort.
It is amazing that they did—
a glad moment,
sustaining all.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Elm Dance, During a Past Earth Day Celebration

 

Last-minute surprises
for the Green Connections’ Earth Day celebration
tomorrow at Turtle Rock Farm.
Matthew Hill, who we got to know
while he was helping Tom Temple
frame the strawbale hermitage,
is also a fiddler. (Some nights,
during those building days, he
and Tom and Bob Powell, also
a carpenter-musician, made great music
during evening jams.)
Matthew has arranged for his friends
Bill and Patty Cummings,
from Flagstaff, Arizona,
to play music tomorrow at the Earth Day
celebration. Bill is a fiddler extraordinaire,
Matthew raves. Patty plays guitar
and Matthew will join them on the fiddle,
playing Celtic and traditional American music.
We are glad they happened
into Oklahoma this weekend!

And,
we learn this morning,
Bill McClelland, from Green Country Sierra Club,
is bringing Loblolly Pine seedlings
to share!

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
at Turtle Rock Farm. (Directions.)
1 p.m. —Earth Drum Circle with Dave Conrad,
followed by Thanking the Earth Ceremony
3 p.m. —Cookout, with Wichita Buffalo Company hot dogs
and Corn on the Cob
On-going:
make gifts out of natural materials with TransitionOKC
alpaca fiber spinning and fiber arts with Lisa Piccolo
make your own toothpaste
build a wild bee home
energy demonstration with Bruce Johnson and Barbara Hagan
tour the strawbale hermitage
Cosmic Walk
Prairie Labyrinth
High Tunnel garden

And Music!
Trees!

Let us know you’re coming.
It’s going to be a lovely day
to be together,
make music,
love and celebrate Earth,
and let Earth
heal us,
guide us toward sustainability—
toward respectful life
for all species.

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Seems a tiny effort,
setting aside one day
to celebrate Earth,
our home.
Clouds hang low—
there has been rain!—
over greening grass and trees,
so newly green,
many gorgeous shades,
that celebration rises
from within. Iris
are fully opened,
stunning in their colors,
and tiny, white star-shaped flowers
pop up in the grass. Mockingbird
and Kildeer and Cardinal
and dear Phoebe
are fully voiced. Tiny frogs
serenade into the night. Why wouldn’t we
join in the celebration—
moment
to moment—
and
for an official Earth Day:
Saturday, April 25
at Turtle Rock Farm?
It’s the fifth year Green Connections
has sponsored the party
and the education. Besides food
(free Wichita Buffalo Company hot dogs
and corn on the cob—cookout at 3 p.m.)
and music,
we will gather round at 1 p.m. for the Earth Drum Circle,
led by Dave Conrad,
and then officially thank the Earth in a brief ceremony.
From 11 a.m. there will be activities….
the Cosmic Walk
solar demonstration
make your own toothpaste
make a wild bee house
visit animals
tour the strawbale hermitage
see the high tunnel garden
walk the prairie labyrinth
sit on the farmhouse front porch
make gifts from natural materials
with the TransitionOKC team.
It’s always (this is the fifth year)
a gentle time…
time to be on the prairie,
visit with folks…
spend the day outdoors
on this glorious planet.

Visit our fb event page and let us know
you’re coming
so we have a hot dog at the grill
for you!

 

Retreatants gathered
at the Dominican Sisters of Peace
Heartland Spirituality Center
in Great Bend, Kansas, last week
for a time together
seeing with new eyes
our life on this “Blue Boat Home.”
Peter Mayer‘s song wove through
our days together
as we explored the Universe Story
and how those of us who have grown up
with the creation story
from the Biblical book of Genesis
can find spiritual meaning and purpose
in the continuing story
of this expanding creation.
These clergy and lay Kansans
in the Christian Disciples of Christ Church,
explored the springing natural world
in the evening following a day of light rain,
then spent a day in nature
at the Dominican Sisters’ Heartland Farm.

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Heartland Farm
is a sacred place
because here sustainability
for all
guides their every move.
This is where we at Turtle Rock Farm
first met alpacas
and first set foot in strawbale structures.
Mr. Darcy, Biak Bay and William
eventually moved from Heartland Farm
to Turtle Rock Farm
and we eventually built
a strawbale hermitage.
The women of Heartland Farm
are our sisters in so many ways.

DSCN7028Inside the Straw Bale Art Barn at Heartland Farm

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Sr. Jane introducing retreatants to Heartland Farm

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Though the Disciples retreatants
had been visiting the monastery in Great Bend
for 15 years on their annual retreats,
they had not ever heard of or visited
Heartland Farm
until this year,
last week.
This is so telling
of where we are as a culture—
economically,
socially,
spiritually.
Creation spirituality
and sustainability
is, for most people, definitely
seeing through new eyes.

This time for the Disciples retreatants
was spent mostly outdoors,
learning the story of the Big Bang
alongside honoring the Genesis creation story;
re-discovering the wonder
in the natural world—
that we too
are part of the natural world;
meeting the gentle, dedicated women
of Heartland Farm.
For some of these courageous people,
the process was unsettling,
challenging, and yet
hope-filled.
Seeing with new eyes
is like that.

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It was “Quarter Time”
at First United Methodist Church,
in Pawnee, Oklahoma.
It’s a multi-generational gathering,
quarterly,
for a program, music,
food. It’s the church
I attend; the pastor and people there
support the work we do
at Turtle Rock Farm
and come to celebrate
Earth Day with us.
This Sunday evening
the generations gathered
to make the Cosmic Walk,
a journey through the universe’s becoming,
beginning with the Flaring Forth
some 13 billion years ago,
up to right now,
where we, not that long ago,
relatively,
came into the long,
expanding
story.

With reverence,
they listened,
they walked,
they read,
they declared at the end:
“I am _____
and this is my story.”
After the walk,
as this community
shared
sobering moments,
insights,
a few tears,
the intimacy
of their life together
expanded
too.
Then, in the celebration—
with food,
the children’s sharing
of their considerable musical talent—
our story
together
grew ever more
tender.