Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Circle of Trees: A Multigenerational Program about Nourishing Deep Connections with Nature


Part of Circle of Trees

Cut down the forest of desire, not the forest of trees. — The Buddha, Dhammapada 283

Workshops 6 and 7 are ideally done as one longer workshop of at least two hours. The workshops comprise an adaptation of the ritual "A Council of All Beings," presented by Joanna Macy, John Seed, Pat Fleming, and Arne Naess in the 1988 book Thinking Like a Mountain: Toward a Council for All Beings. If possible, identify an outdoor setting for these activities, while being mindful to select a location that will be accessible and welcoming to participants with all mobility, hearing, or other sensory issues.

This work is guided by the philosophy of "deep ecology", a term coined by Naess in 1972. In an interview posted on the Context Institute website, Michael Zimmerman explains "deep ecology":

Deep ecology portrays itself as "deep" because it asks deeper questions about the place of human life, who we are. Deep ecology is founded on two basic principles: one is a scientific insight into the interrelatedness of all systems of life on Earth, together with the idea that anthropocentrism—human-centeredness—is a misguided way of seeing things. The second component of deep ecology is what Arnie Naess calls the need for human self-realization. Instead of identifying with our egos or our immediate families, we would learn to identify with trees and animals and plants, indeed the whole ecosphere. This would involve a pretty radical change of consciousness, but it would make our behavior more consistent with what science tells us is necessary for the well-being of life on Earth. We just wouldn't do certain things that damage the planet, just as you wouldn't cut off your own finger.


This workshop will:

  • Introduce a ritual that fosters a deep connection between participants and trees
  • Reinforce the concept of interdependence as expressed in the seventh Unitarian Universalist Principle, "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part"
  • Affirm stewardship of the earth as an explicit act of faith.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Experience a spiritual connection with each other and the web of life
  • Embody the concept of interdependence by creating a mask to represent their spiritual ally
  • Build on their understanding of and respect for trees through multiple modes of learning, including movement, meditation, and ritual
  • Experience multigenerational learning.