Whole and Holy: 2020 EcoTheology Retreats, by Naomi Wenger

In 2020, the Ecosystems Discernment Committee (EDC) of the Hermitage Board will host three day-long retreats focus- ing on the theological implications of caring for Earth. In his 2016 encyclical, Laudato Si, Pope Francis declares that, “Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.” In the midst of a climate crisis and the immense damage that humans have done to our Earth home, we must learn first that we are one with Earth and that it is “good” so that we can properly care for it. From mass extinctions to rising car- bon saturation of the atmosphere, we are implicated in some fairly big problems. But, as Pope Francis reminds us, there is another view, one that can rightfully motivate us to action on behalf of the planet. If we treat the place where we live as holy, we are already on the way to participating in its healing and wholeness. As Christ-followers, our work on 

We invite you to come and explore with us the ecological and theological framework for tending and keeping Earth (Genesis 2:15), and examine our resistances to act on behalf of our planet. 

The first retreat, “God in Deep Time: ‘Showing Mercy to the Thousandth Generation,’” will be held on Holy Saturday, April 11. During this day we will introduce the concept of Deep Time ecology and link that to the eternal nature of God. We will also spend time lamenting for Earth and confessing our complicity in its mis-use. 

The second retreat, “God as Wholeness: ‘All Creation Groans,’” will be on the Summer Solstice, June 20. This day will focus on the Uni- ty of God and God’s work in Creation, including but not limited to humans. We will examine the human responsibility to care for the “poor of the Earth.” We will also spend some time working in the garden. 

The final retreat is a Harvest Fest on October 31 with the theme, “God as Presence: ‘Look at the Fig Tree.’” We will experience one of the natural cycles of Earth and look for har- vests and harvesters among the creatures of Earth. By noticing our micro-environment, we will gain insight into the big picture of caring for Earth. We will also experience Nature as Word of God (the “God said” of Genesis 1). We may also harvest some of the bounty from the garden and eat from the abundance of the land.