About 15 of us gathered together each Tuesday night at the First Congregational Church to explore and discuss readings about our connections to the Earth. We were part of a G.A.L.A. “Study Circle”, committing ourselves to reading a selection of thoughtful essays each week, then meeting together to share our perspectives. For many it was our first time in a Study Circle, but we all found we had something to share and something to learn.
When I first signed up for this particular Study Circle, “Reconnecting with Earth”, I really had no idea what to expect. The flier stated it would “clarify values about our relationship to Earth” and “explore what it means to take personal responsibility for the Earth”. The topics had names such as “Wild Nature” and “Shifting Paradigms”, whatever that meant. But as I began to do the readings, I began to truly understand that our relationship to the Earth is an incredibly complex topic and the diverse, intriguing readings began to change my perspective.
For one, I always viewed nature as being “out there” rather than “in here”, but several readings explored the idea that we ourselves really are part of nature, a smaller piece of this greater, mysterious whole. According to the Okanagan tribe, “we are our land/place”.
Other readings were more scientific, exploring recent theories about our universe, how our globe operates as an interconnected system, and how technology is beginning to mimic some of the greatest successes in nature. It was fascinating to learn about these different subjects.
At the end, we discussed what changed for us as a result of the reading. Some commented on how moving the readings were and how they’d like to learn more about the different plants and wildlife in the area. One person will be expanding their garden this summer so they can grow more of their own food. Another person wants to help her friend start a Study Circle in another town. Everyone seemed grateful that the readings brought them together to share stories and ideas with others in their neighborhood.
Now we are all looking forward to one final meeting: a potluck dinner and a viewing of one of the Planet Earth episodes. We had a joyous and engaging 6 weeks together, but we all know we’ll be back in touch. Reconnecting with Earth not only strengthened our ties to the Earth, but also our ties to each other.
G.A.L.A. helps organize Study Circles across the state of New Hampshire. If you have a group that would be interested in doing a Study Circle be sure to talk to us today. Visit http://nwei.org to see the latest course listings.