Spirituality and Sustainability: Making Meaningful Connections

December 11, 2019
The Office of the Chaplaincy examines links between faith and our natural world

Over 100 students, faculty and staff joined the Office of the Chaplaincy this semester in our focus on the intersection of spirituality and sustainability. In partnership with the University of Richmond’s Office for Sustainability, the Chaplaincy hosted programs throughout the semester that allowed the UR community to connect their spiritual lives to the natural world.
The semester began with a “befriend a plant” party where students chose a plant to call their own. They repotted these plants and learned about proper plant care. Students were invited to meditate on the gifts these plants offered and then connect these gifts back to larger questions of spirituality and faith.

Throughout the fall the Office of the Chaplaincy also hosted several dinners as a part of our “Consider This” dinner series. These meals brought small groups of faculty, staff, students and community partners together to consider how spiritualty and sustainability intersects in their own lives. These meals were held at UR Downtown and centered around local, sustainable ingredients prepared by Richmond on Broad Chef Matt Lee.

Our fall pilgrimage, a trip to Acadia National Park, also focused on encountering the sacred in nature. Students joined Muslim Chaplain Waleed Ilyas and Chaplain for Spiritual Life Rev. Jamie Lynn Haskins in a three-night, four-day camping trip that included beautiful hikes and breath-taking views. Throughout the pilgrimage students were asked to consider how the natural world fosters deep faithfulness and spiritual awareness.
This semester-long focus on the intersection of spirituality and sustainability prepared us for the next lecture in our Sylvester Spirituality Series with Mr. Fred Bahnson. On February 20, 2020 Bahnson will deliver a lecture entitled Contemplative Ecology: Cultivating a Spirituality for the Climate Crisis. His lecture will consider how contemplative spiritual traditions might help us respond to the current climate crisis. Bahnson will lead us in imagining what it might mean for us to cultivate a contemplative ecology, reconsidering our place in, and responsibility for, the more-than-human world.
The Sylvester Spiritual Series lecture is open to the public and no reservations or tickers are required. The community is invited to join us on February 20, 2020 in the Alice Haynes Room of Tyler Haynes Commons. The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. with a dessert reception and book signing to follow. Contact Jamie Lynn Haskins at jhaskins@richmond.edu for additional information.