Fr. Kaleeg Hainsworth will be coming to Sanctum Retreat Centre to inspire and educate retreat participants in a spiritually grounded ecological world view. The Friday-Saturday (May 8 & 9) retreat will build upon Fr. Hainsworth’s book “An Altar in the Wilderness,” and start to explore material he is preparing for his latest writing project.
Please join me and the good folks at The People's Co-op Bookstore on Commercial Drive to support them, and all Independent Bookstores. I will be helping out in the bookstore and talking to people about my book and much else. I will be giving a reading at 4pm, followed by questions and answers. Here is a letter from the national Authors for Indies spokesperson:
While most people indeed have a heterosexual orientation and identify with a single gender that was assigned to them at birth, it has become increasingly clear that this is not the case for everyone, that gender and sexuality might better be understood as manifesting themselves along continuums, with male/female, masculine/feminine, heterosexual/homosexual existing at the poles but with a variety of identities, orientations, and expressions in between. Science and psychology continue to confirm this as a reality, with the American Psychological Association no longer characterizing variations in sexual orientation and gender identity as disorders, only warning that stigmatization based on them can negatively affect mental health.
A decade ago, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen first suggested we were living in the “Anthropocene,” a new geological epoch in which humans had altered the planet. Now, in an article for Yale Environment 360, Crutzen and a coauthor explain why adopting this term could help transform the perception of our role as stewards of the Earth.
Kaleeg Hainsworth, drawing upon his experiences in the Canadian wilderness, grounds his book in the literary, philosophical, mystical and historical teachings of the spiritual masters of both East and West, outlining the human experience of the sacred in nature. He offers a vision of life in which a human being stands in the world of nature as at an altar built in the wilderness, a sacred offering in a holy place.
Spiritual ecology calls us to dismantle the powerful defense mechanisms we have developed against our impulse to listen to the sacred in our world. Awe and mystery are so vital to the human experience of the natural world that without them we are doomed to treat nature as little more than a resource, a science or a playground for recreation alone.
Tonight I read Edna St, Vincent Milay's poem, Spring. Reading it satisfied a mood I was in. Last week two men whom I loved died. One, Fr Thomas Hopko, was my mentor and friend for years and also one of the giants of church life and theology. The other man was my parishioner for many years and had dedicated time each day of his life to pray for me. We went through a lot together in my parish and I deeply saddened by his passing. However, when I read Milay's poem I immediately thought of Hopkins' poem of the same title and realized how contrasting they are when side by side. I see now that they form an interesting dialogue. So I put this little visual together.
I propose that it is time for us to accept as a premise in whatever environmental discussions we have -- or indeed, in any deliberations on anything taking place in the future -- the fact that the world is coming to an end. Well, not the world itself: The planet is actually pretty resilient, and will likely continue on its orbit unbothered by the warm spell; it's just people, along with most other life forms, that will disappear. Geologically, there's not so much to worry about; biologically, on the other hand, we have a situation.
I am twelve years old. I am alone, I am scared, I am cold, and I am crying my eyes out. I can’t see more than six feet in either direction. I am on some godforsaken moor high up on the dark, ancient, poisonous spine of England. The black bog juice I have been trudging through for hours has long since crept over the tops of my boots and down into my socks. My rucksack is too heavy, I am unloved and lost and I will never find my way home. It is raining and the cloud is punishing me; clinging to me, laughing at me. Twenty-five years later, I still have a felt memory of that experience and its emotions: a real despair and a terrible loneliness.
Water makes life possible, while oil is toxic to most life. Water in its pure state is clear; oil is dark. Water dissolves; oil congeals. Water has inspired great poetry and literature. Our language is full of allusions to springs, depths, currents, rivers, seas, rain, mist, dew, and snowfall....We think of time flowing like a river. We cry oceans of tears. We ponder the wellsprings of thought. Oil, on the contrary, has had no such effect on our language. To my knowledge, it has given rise to no poetry, hymns, or great literature, and probably to no flights of imagination other than those of pecuniary accumulation.
Few people over the centuries have had the confidence, or perhaps the chutzpah, to publicly prognosticate on what a papal encyclical would say. But the ascension of Pope Francis has been accompanied by the rise of an entire industry devoted to ripping his words from their contexts, putting words in his mouth, or applying convoluted hermeneutics to tease out what he "really" means. As a result, speculation about his upcoming ecological encyclical has reached fever pitch.
Over the lat few weeks I have been thinking about Gerard Manley Hopkins a lot. Truth is, I think about him a lot anyway, but somehow his poem, The Windhover, has really been playing in me deeply. One thing about the poem I have always admired is how Hopkins uses the word 'AND'. The sonnet is so tightly put together that its various themes all hing on that word, a conjunctive even. The joy, the theology, the transformation of bird to Christ, of man to Jesuit, and even the srung rhythm of the poem, all break out and express themselves through the 'AND'.