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Earth Monastery Project Update:
Monarch Butterfly Waystation


The Earth Monastery Project is a partnership between the Abbey and carefully selected applicants, who will receive resources to complete a Project which nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness and cultivate a vision of the earth as our primary monastery. The EMP is a small grant project funded by donations, income from Amazon Associates program, and through a percentage of fees from Abbey online courses.

Rev. Dr. Martha Brunnell is one of our grant recipients for her project establishing a Monarch Waystation and native wildlife habitat among broad fields and winding roads in northern Illinois adjacent to the Mayfield Congregational Church UCC, where she is the pastor.

The Abbey Wisdom Council was drawn to Martha’s proposal because the Waystation offers a place rest and birthing for the butterflies as an act of what Martha described as “an act of ecological hospitality” as they “help sustain the wonder of the annual monarch
migration, recognize our role in the web of life, and develop a contemplative
space in creation for others to join us.”

Our grantees from the fall cycle are midway through their projects and so offer their reports which we are excited to share an excerpt from what Martha shared with us.

Prairie Oasis: Mayfield Monarch Waystation by Martha Brunnell

I have begun collecting various butterfly and monarch resources and have already made use of several of them in worship.  I have started to listen for and seed a future retreat/workshop on Monarchs, Milkweed, Metamorphosis, and Migration.  I anticipate our annual fall outdoor worship in early September will be held around the young waystation rather than in its typical location elsewhere on the grounds.  The fall equinox will likely be when we choose to officially dedicate the waystation.  We will have several intergenerational events at church during this summer.  They will draw spiritual and educational content from our monarch waystation underway and will include a banner project.

It will take two to three years for the waystation, like any garden, to be solidly established.  We are dreaming about signage and educational materials we will have on site and about deliberately encouraging a web of waystations all over the county.  We may consider becoming part of the international quiet garden movement.  In this movement, quiet garden spaces are intentionally open to be shared with the public at designated and advertised times.  The earth monastery metaphor is appropriate for us.

If the winter had not been as difficult and long as it has, we would have begun preparing the land weeks ago.  The snow should soon be gone.  Then the first actual gardening step will be to cover the waystation ground with a heavy plastic.  It will kill all the invasive plants currently growing there.  By the end of the grant cycle this summer, the initial shrubs, plants, and grasses will be planted, the pathway will be laid out, and benches ordered and maybe even in place.  Your grant last fall was the impetus for us to put a dream into action.  All evidence suggests that the window of opportunity to impact this magnificent monarch migration is right now, or the time will pass.  The shrubs and plants purchased with your grant money along with plant and seed donations from others in the county will lay the groundwork for financial and plant contributions over the next several years while the waystation matures.

Yesterday afternoon, I stood at the window overlooking the waystation site.  There was a male pheasant with two female pheasants cavorting about the yard.  Pheasants are ground nesters.  Will they settle in our soon-to-be garden/waystation/oasis?  As it goes for monarchs in the county, it will go for other pollinators too.  With a garden growing into a more secure environment for the pollinators, the entire ecosystem will strengthen and diversify, all within sight of our eyes and heart. Thank you for the wonder!

They also had a wonderful article published about their project in their local newspaper: “Stewards of Nature: Mayfield planting a prairie to help monarch migration.” We will be sharing more from Martha and the Monarch Waystation at the end of the grant cycle as well.

Applications for our next round of Earth Monastery Project grants are now being accepted through April 3oth! We welcome your proposal! Please see this link for details and feel free to email us with any questions.

Would you consider making a donation to this work and support future projects which nourish an earth-cherishing consciousness? (Go to the bottom of this page for the payment link – credit cards accepted)


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2 Responses

  1. I agree with Evelyn that I love this outreach effort to the earth from Abbey of the Arts. I grew up on Lake Erie and just took butterflies for granted. They were just another lovely part of my summers outdoors childhood. About 13 years ago, my son and I had the privilege of helping to tag butterflies with the Audubon society. I am fascinated by monarchs and saddened that their numbers may be diminishing. May this project be blessed and be a blessing to butterflies, humans and a range of species! God’s creation is good, wondrous and fragile!

  2. What a wonderful project! And it looks as if it will benefit more than just the monarchs. I love it that the Abbey is offering this way to give back to the earth.