Homesick in a Climate-Changed World

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
7:00-8:15 pm (Eastern) • via Zoom

This event is free, but registration is required.
"Lament promotes the sacredness of all life by protesting and naming all losses that prevent the flourishing of life."
— Rev. Dr. Casey Thornburgh Sigmon
On Tuesday, October 12 we will gather to explore the experience of solastalgia through music, poetry, ritual, and conversation with several members of The BTS Center team. This event is an introduction to the theme of eco-grief that we will be engaging in the coming months at The BTS Center.

The term “solastalgia” — coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht — is formed by the combination of the Latin words sōlācium (comfort) and the Greek root –algia (pain). Albrecht describes solastalgia as "the homesickness you have when you are still at home," when your home environment is changing in ways you find distressing.

As individuals, as communities, and as a species, we need practices and ceremonies to hold space for heartache, and in so doing, also make room for cultivating hope and sustaining engagement. Through this event, and the offerings to come, we aim to accompany one another in an experience of eco-grief that is oriented toward action.

This gathering will feature conversation with members of The BTS Center team and special guest, poet Susan King.
“As the Spirit laments within us, so we become, even in our self-isolation, small shrines where the presence and healing love of God can dwell. And out of that there can emerge new possibilities, new acts of kindness... new hope.”
— N. T. Wright

Poet & Special Guest
Susan Deborah King, MDiv, has worked as a United Church of Christ pastor, a retreat leader on creativity and spirituality, and a teacher of literature and creative writing. She has published six full-length poetry collections and edited two anthologies, including Tabernacle, Coven, One-Breasted Woman, and Out of the Depths: Poetry of Poverty, Courage and Resilience. She lives in Cumberland, Maine and Great Cranberry Island.

The Rev. Alison Cornish is a Unitarian Universalist minister living in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. After 20 years of work as an historic preservationist and architectural historian, Alison headed to Andover Newton Theological School, responding to a felt sense of call directly from Earth to address what is it that we are doing in our daily lives and habits that is destroying the planet that we inhabit. After graduation and ordination, and while serving congregations on Long Island, she began studies with the Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy; delved deeper into the work of eco-theologian Thomas Berry; and became a GreenFaith Fellow.

Alison has previously served as Senior Director of Programs and Training at Partners for Sacred Places, Director of Congregational and Seminary Initiatives at Interfaith Philadelphia, and Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light. Alison and her husband Pat relocated to New England in 2020 to be closer to family and friends, and to pursue new avenues of work related to care of Creation. 

Ben Yosua-Davis serves on The BTS Center staff team as Director of Applied Research. For five seasons, Ben produced and hosted a podcast called “Reports from the Spiritual Frontier” which chronicled the day-to-day lives of leaders innovating new forms of spiritual community. Previously, he lived in Haverhill, MA, where he co-planted a new church called The Vine, one of the earliest mainline missional church expressions, which gathered in homes and coffee shops; hosted Free Markets, game nights, and block parties; and worked as a community partner to make its city a better place to live.

Ben is a Maine native and now lives on Chebeague Island, Maine with his wife, Melissa, and their young children, Michael and Genevieve.

Aram Mitchell is a Registered Maine Guide and Wilderness First Responder with a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Chicago Theological Seminary. He lives on a little plot of land in Maine with his spouse, two dogs, a cat, and several chickens.

Aram moved to Maine in 2015 to serve as the Executive Director of Renewal in the Wilderness, where he worked for five years planning and facilitating programs designed to help sustain the vocations of care providers, justice workers, and faith leaders. Through his work for Renewal in the Wilderness, Aram connected with The BTS Center in 2016 and has collaborated on a variety of programs since then. In 2021 Aram joined The BTS Center team as the Director of Partnerships and Formation.
Wonder & Wander Retreat
A day-long nature retreat for spiritual leaders
at Wells Reserve in Maine, with Linda Littlefield Grenfell
When: Friday, October 15, 2021 • 10:00 am - 3:00 pm (ET)
Where: Wells Reserve at Laudholm (342 Laudholm Farm Rd, Wells, ME 04090)
Who: Spiritual Leaders* (max. 20 people)
Cost: $35/person (unlimited scholarships available)
We have a few spots remaining for this day-long in-person (outside) retreat. If you are local to Southern Maine, we invite you to join us!

We are partnering with Maine Master Naturalist and Registered Maine Guide, Linda Littlefield Grenfell, to guide a group of spiritual leaders* on a day of practice and play that will help us to connect with our more-than-human kin. We will gather at Wells Reserve at Laudholm for imaginative encounters with what Linda calls “the real world” — exploring our environment, engaging with each other, and recalling our own deeply animal nature.

In her book, Wild: An Elemental Journey, Jay Griffiths writes: “We are animal in our blood and in our skin. We were not born for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud.” 

It’s true, among other things, that humans are animals. We are mammals with imagination. But a lot of us have forgotten our intimate bodily connection with earth. In a world wired to distract us from our own integral earthiness, it takes practice to remember that connection.

*We define “spiritual leaders” broadly to include not only clergy and other faith leaders, but also dedicated laypersons, nonprofit leaders, chaplains, spiritual directors, students, university and seminary faculty, denominational executives, and others with a committed and world-engaging spiritual practice.

The BTS Center | 207.774.5212 | |
Our mission is to catalyze spiritual imagination with enduring wisdom for transformative faith leadership. We offer theologically grounded programs of continuing education and spiritual formation, including workshops and retreats, learning cohorts, public conversations, and projects of applied research.