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The Sacred Work of Listening, Loving, and Responding

Eco-Chaplaincy as Compassion in Action


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
How might we offer spiritual nourishment to one another as we encounter the eco-social crises of our time? In this talk, Kirsten Rudestam describes the art and practice chaplaincy to our community.
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Kirsten offered this talk to participants in our June 2023 EcoDharma Exploration. Visit the program page for the full recorded gathering.



All of the anxiety and the depression and the dread and the anger and the precarity accompanying environmental and social losses, the direct and indirect impacts of the climate crisis on humans and non-humans, the challenges of living a life as usual in the midst of such loss and danger. Chaplains offer spiritual nourishment in these times and opportunities to be deeply listened to and be reminded of our belonging, of our relationship with nature.

More recently, these amazing studies have come out that show that the simple act of having a space to share the challenges, the feelings of loss, grief, fear, and anger, without any sort of agenda around it, that this simple act creates and enhances a sense of capacity and engagement in the world. Actually just simply being listened to in community or even one-on-one mobilizes people and can give a sense of empowerment. It’s so beautiful.

So I invite you, if closing the eyes helps you to listen, close the eyes for a moment. And if it helps to place a hand somewhere on the body, on your heart or your lower belly, giving your body some felt contact, some support to ask this Earth body — and keep repeating that, this Earth body — where does it hurt?

The full transcript can be found here.

The application period is now open for the 2024-2026 Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy program. More information can be found here.

Picture of Kirsten Rudestam

Kirsten Rudestam

Kirsten Rudestam is an environmental educator, wilderness guide, and meditation teacher. She has a PhD in Environmental Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz where she studied environmental justice and Indigenous water practices. She has fifteen years of experience teaching field-based and classroom-based college courses in environmental studies and sociology, is trained as a vision fast guide through the School of Lost Borders and is a facilitator for Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects. Kirsten has been practicing vipassana meditation since 2001. She, Gil Fronsdal, and Susie Harrington are the co-founders and core faculty for the Sati Center Buddhist Eco-Chaplaincy training program. Those interested in joining the program in the future are invited to contact them at . The second training will begin in July 2021, with applications opening winter of 2020-21.
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