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Elizabeth Rechter, EcoSpiritual Direction Guide

"This work is about coming home and finding community there. I have always felt the Presence of God embedded in the earth. This is where I feel God. This is where I know I am part of God and God’s life. The work feels like understanding and knowing undeniable Oneness."

Brief Bio. I have been an Episcopal priest, serving in parish ministry 1991-2015. I am a teacher, retreat leader, and spiritual director and I served as Stillpoint’s Executive Director from 2015 to 2023 — an organization that forms Spiritual Directors and fosters Contemplative Life. Having experienced the gift of Spiritual Direction throughout my 30 plus years of ministry, I wish to help share this ministry to a widening circle in a world in great need of spiritual listening companions. My spirituality is formed by the Natural World, the Rule of St. Benedict, Contemplative Prayer, Taize chanting, and I am a trained facilitator in BioSpiritual Focusing, the spiritual practice of connecting with the Wisdom of the body. I live in Santa Ana, California with my husband Jay, my gata, Taylor Swift and a garden full of variety of other California species.

Tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to this work.

As a young person, I felt my deepest calling was as a seeker of God. I followed the path to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church as a way of anchoring myself, my vocation, and my community life where God was to be the center. Perhaps I didn’t know where else to go. After 25 years in parish ministry, I stepped out of the Church to head an organization that forms Spiritual Directors. Here I was able to immerse myself in the work of listening for God with others and asking about our direct experiences of God rather than representing the Church’s teachings. I have recently retired from any executive function and I am enjoying a new kind of freedom as I seek God outside of any institutional expectation.

What I am finding is a spaciousness in the journey home to the God of my childhood, who sought me in the meadow, and the sky and the storm. This work is about coming home and finding community there. I have always felt the Presence of God embedded in the earth. This is where I feel God. This is where I know I am part of God and God’s life. The work feels like understanding and knowing undeniable Oneness.

What are the lands that raised you, and how has your own connection with the natural world influenced your path?

I was raised in Central New York State along the shore of Cayuga Lake. I learned in elementary school it was the land of the Iroquois. The land I lived on was first their home. I learned how they lived and thrived. I wanted to be an Iroquois when I grew up. A person of the land. And in some way I feel the elements and energies of the Iroquois people I drank from the water, and consumed in the food we grew and ate made me part of them. Now I live in Southern California. I feel the native Acjachemen (often referred to as Juaneño) people here. I cannot know them now, but when I run in the canyons and keep the ocean and the mountains in my view I sense them and the wisdom they knew. Whenever I have felt lost from myself, the world or God I would go to the trees, the land, and running and breathing there always, always returned me to myself.

Why do you believe a practice of spiritual connection with the earth is important for our time?

There is no time when this has not been important and now we are awakening to what has always been. It is the awakening that is important. Acknowledging what we didn’t know about the earth, all the creatures, and God. Because of our ignorance, we have naively participated in destroying our home and separating ourselves from each other and Spirit. But now collectively I believe we feel the disease that the whole natural order is suffering from. We can feel it. And we cannot ignore the suffering any longer. It is important that now we acknowledge the suffering, and, if we are able, be agents of healing.

In your experience, what are some of the barriers or challenges individuals or communities face in developing a deeper connection with nature?

I believe our biggest barrier is that we do not have a deep connection with our own bodies. Our own natural world of flesh and blood. As Westerners we have depended primarily on our cognitive capacities. The Enlightenment threw us into the vault of the mind. We have become cut off from the Wisdom that resides in our bodies. We are disconnected from the incarnational nature of God as humans and as members of the sentient community. I remember the story of Carl Jung traveling to the US in order to meet with an Indigenous Chief. He heard their stories of the first encounters with the White people. “We thought they were crazy, mentally unstable”, the Chief said. “They lived only in their minds.” We must awaken to a larger, deeper life. The life of body, mind, and Spirit. Then we will recognize the greater community we belong to and are called to respect and support.

What practices (big or small) can help heal our disconnection from the natural world?

Practices that foster a trusting relationship with our own bodies apart from the judging voice of our minds. Learning to connect with our own flesh may open us to the all other “flesh” we share the earth with, the plants, animals, elements, and energies.

The spiritual practice of having a spiritual companionship relationship, whether individual or group, gives us much-needed witnesses for what we are experiencing and the wisdom that is being revealed. A witnessing community where we feel heard and believed helps ground us for the work we are called to participate in.

What are you looking forward to offering as a guide in Seminary of the Wild Earth?

I look forward to being part of creating a listening community and anticipating, the life that will be revealed as we learn to listen more deeply to ourselves, the earth and God. As a spiritual companion, I am part of a tradition of those who through sacred listening are guardians of mystery. I am looking forward to all the mystery that will unfold as we learn to listen to our own voices, the voice of the earth, and the voice of God. To foster this type of community is to participate in the healing of the cosmos.



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