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Partnership with Hometree

In 2022 we partnered formally with Hometree, an organization based in County Clare dedicated to reforesting and rewilding Ireland, including creating a renewed rainforest ecosystem in Connemara, a place we love dearly.

Hometree’s purpose is land regeneration, how does this align with your company/organisation?

Abbey of the Arts is a virtual monastery rooted in contemplative practices of the desert, Celtic, and Benedictine lineages. We believe that cultivating a path of slowness, of rest, of attentive listening and presence, of wonder and gratitude, has the capacity to change the world.

Monastic tradition has its origins in a call to be in intimate connection with nature. The monk’s path was birthed in the forests and deserts, the places of wilderness and other wild edges that reflect an inner reality as well. This call to the edges, which is the monk’s call, is a call to wilderness – to that which lies beyond our domesticated neat, safe, and secure lives. Nature reminds us of the messiness and beauty of things. Nature says that when we let our boundaries between human and “more-than-human” soften, a deep intimacy can flourish.

Our work as spiritual seekers and contemplatives is to see all of creation as woven together in holiness and to live this truth: the Earth is our original monastery. Land regeneration is one effective way of honoring the sacredness of wild places.

What is inspiring you to work with a regeneration process like Hometree?

We had the idea a few years ago to find a way to give back to the land and environment that sustains and inspires us. In researching best practices, we were faced with the enormity of the task of restoring that which has been lost. The more we studied, the more we felt overwhelmed by what we wanted to do. On the verge of feeling discouraged, we discovered that Hometree was already successfully doing what we had only dreamed of doing, and has the skills, leadership, and wisdom to do so effectively. We felt called to help support the important work others had already started.

Some of the trees you are planting you will not see mature, together we are working towards more abundant and biodiverse future, in three or four sentences please describe what you would like to invite into the future?

The fact that this work will take generations to be completed is hope-filled. We believe in honoring the slow unfolding and ripening of organic processes and that we are called to take action even when we won’t directly see the fruits of most of our work. Whenever we act, we can never know the consequences of what we do, but it is the commitment to sacred action that compels us to work for the flourishing of nature.

List two ways you support this invitation at present?

We began our commitment as a partner with Hometree at the end of 2022 by sponsoring 200 trees. As we move into a new year, we will continue to designate proceeds from our programs at Abbey of the Arts to sponsor more trees.

Our community and membership is global and we will also be encouraging our participants to sponsor a tree through specific courses and to find ways to honour their local environments in their own way.

Do you have a memory that to share about a tree/forests/nature?

Christine grew up in New York City and has lived in cities for most of her life, now living in Galway City since 2012 with her husband John. Her father was Austrian and her fondest memories as a child were walks in the Vienna Woods, as well as in the Tyrolean Alsp. Everywhere she has lived she seeks out woodlands as places of meditation and connection to something bigger than herself. She has always walked out of a gathering of trees more deeply connected to herself and the world around her than when she entered.

Other than Hometree can you celebrate other ways you or your organisation supports a healthier environment?

We have a branch of our work called the Earth Monastery project based on a book I published in 2020. The book, self-study retreat, prayer cycle, and other programs we offer in connection with it are grounded in the belief that Earth is our original monastery, our original sanctuary, our original scripture text, our original saints, our original scripture text, our original sacrament, our original icon, and our original liturgy. Everything that humans have learned about prayer, meditation, and contemplation has come from what the Celtic monks believe to be the big book of revelation, Creation itself.

In addition, we used to offer in-person pilgrimages in Ireland and other countries, but following the pandemic have discerned that we no longer want to encourage that kind of long-distance travel and are helping people to nurture a sense of pilgrimage in their daily lives.

We’d love to hear and share any key lessons that life has taught you, in as little or many words as you like.

Our virtual monastery is called Abbey of the Arts because we bring together contemplative practices with various forms of creative expression including poetry, song, dance, and visual art. We believe that cultivating space in our lives helps the imagination to flourish which brings new inspiration and possibilities we can’t see in our rushed and over-scheduled lives. We see this way of life as an act of resistance to the capitalist productivity paradigm which is at the root of our exploitation of natural resources. Cultivating an earth-cherishing consciousness demands that we live in a different way, but also slow ourselves down and release the value we place on achievement and striving. At the heart of monasticism is a life-giving humility which asks us to keep listening and to hold things lightly.