Earth as Soul Care Matrix:
The Wild Heart of Ministry

This 6-week online class is a part of the Soul Care Institute offerings and is now being offered in a one-on-one format with individualized interaction through soul care calls and emails with Christine Valters Paintner.  Please contact her if you are interested in participating in the class to find out when she has availability.


Apprehend God in all things,
for God is in all things.

Every single creature is full of God,
and is a book about God.

Every creature is a word of God.

If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature,
even a caterpillar, I would never have to prepare a sermon.

So full of God is every creature.

—Meister Eckhart

The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves into the rhythms of the human heart. The earth is not outside us; it is within: the clay from where the tree of the body grows. When we emerge from our offices, rooms and houses, we enter our natural element. We are children of the earth: people to whom the outdoors is home. Nothing can separate us from the vigor and vibrancy of this inheritance. In contrast to our frenetic, saturated lives, the earth offers a calming stillness. Movement and growth in nature takes its time. The patience of nature enjoys the ease of trust and hope. There is something in our clay nature that needs to continually experience this ancient, outer ease of the world. It helps us remember who we are and why we are here.

—John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

Many of us turn to time in nature as a restorative practice and time of deep soul connection to the holy presence, the sacred Source of all that exists.

The earth is the very matrix out of which our ministries of soul care arise.  As John O’Donohue writes, the earth is within, it is the clay out of which the tree of our compassionate and healing presence to ourselves and others grows.

Often we are so stretched thin in our work that we forget this vital and central matrix from which we can emerge still again, focused, with an expansive heart.

Our alienation from the earth clearly unleashes devastation on Earth’s natural community and generates immense psychological and spiritual distress for humankind. When we engage in embodied-contemplative-relational practices, we can transform our habitual patterns and shift our ego-centered alienation into an eco-centered intimacy, and move into a deeper participation in “nature’s wild and holy fellowship of being.”

For this 6-week online journey we will draw upon Christian mysticism, contemplative practice, and contemporary insights from fields such as ecopsychology as our guides. Support will come from the voices of a variety of wise guides across centuries and from our own community of fellow pilgrims gathering virtually to share our own wisdom.

*This educational event provides 30 hours of continuing education that can be applied to the educational hours required by the Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc.

Themes Include:

Nature as Restorative Matrix for Self and Ministry

Seasonal Rhythms & Elements

Organic Spirituality

Resources from Christian Contemplative & Mystical Traditions

Contemplative Ecopsychology and Contemporary Voices

Reclaiming the Wild Heart of Ministry

Program Objectives

Participants who successfully complete this course will:

Your Guide for this Journey

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE– visit the SCI Core Faculty page for more information about Christine

How it Works and What is included:

Program Requirements

Program Fee and Registration

To register for Earth as Soul Care Matrix: The Wild Heart of Ministry, please do the following:

1. Email Christine with your desired 6-week timeframe in which to complete the course to see if she has availability.

2. Once the dates are confirmed, pay the $450 registration fee using the payment button below.

3. Email Christine again to schedule your two 45-minute soul care calls and she will also send you access to the course materials at this time.

$450 Program FeeAdd to Cart

Praise for "Earth as Soul Care Matrix"

This has been one of the most meaningful and deep experiences in an online class I've had–and I have taken a LOT of online classes! I'm grateful to have had the time and space to integrate regular, contemplative walks on my own time and pace (no pun intended). I think that's been the biggest practice I've started–moving my body, accepting (not always liking) that I have a body in addition to my head, which likes to move on occasion. To be honest, I never thought giving permission to explore experientially beyond intellect and words in an online format could impact my experience so much. I feel deep, deep gratitude to Christine for creating and holding space for it to happen. Thank you! —Joy Agcongay, Gentle Marketing

Christine, this course changed my life. This whole course was so life-giving to me; it often drew me away from the work of all of those funerals because I knew that reflecting on your materials and your questions and on others' posts would let me breathe and be somewhat restored. One of epiphanies of this course was the reference to the older of the Genesis accounts of the creation. I have always preached and taught that we are enlivened by the breath of God, but I had been overlooking the moment before that in the story–the moment when God takes up the river mud and forms a human creature. I have long talked about how we are stardust but again overlooked that that's because we are adamah. I would not hesitate to recommend this course to the right other people. —Janice Palmer

This course was an answer to my prayers of finding a new direction for my life and work, and for finding a community of kindred souls who share my passion for contemplation and loving service. I am taking action here in my new community to put my learnings into practice. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your life's work with us so generously and authentically. —Barbara DeCoursey Roy

The content was rich and wonderful. While some of the material was very familiar, I deeply appreciated the exposure to new poets and practices. My spirituality has been very earth-based, but there is still so much to learn…I am a novice on this journey. Truly, this course has affirmed the importance of nature as the go-to source of soul care. Getting out the door to "do my homework" on days when I didn't feel like it was healing. I anticipate I will be looking for ways to bring the outdoors into my practice in a more intentional way. The material and community exceeded my expectations of an online course. Excellent leadership ~ Christine, I truly marvel at the attention you gave us! Deep gratitude, and may you continue to share your gifts and the blessings of your wisdom and knowledge. —Jan Tissandier

This class reeeeaaallly stretched me.  I was greatly challenged to make that body/nature connection and really began to see how disconnected I am, but I really have brought some of that into my work with others already.  And as I wrote in my latest post … the letting go, I am not just saying that from my head, I truly am experiencing it.  This is an organic unfolding of where I think God has been leading me over the last few months as I am making a transition in my work. I would recommend this class to others as expansive and connecting to the rhythm of the soul. —-Cindy Serio