Chruch See Natural, Spiritual Worlds Connected
Rev. Mary Abele
Shelburne, Vermont - April 12, 2009
It's Sunday morning at the All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne-- a place for people of all faith traditions to explore their spirituality.
Candles are lit in reflection of Passover, Easter and spring-- the triumphs of freedom over slavery, life over death, spring over winter.
"We feel there's an interconnection with all religions which is similar to our connectedness with the environment and all living beings," said Laurie Caswell Burke, a member of the church.
Stewardship of the Earth is part of All Souls' mission statement, uniting the natural world with the spiritual. The sanctuary overlooks rolling farmland, Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks.
"I think I could speak for so many people that come here that they really appreciate the beauty of this and the incredible beauty outside, and that can't help but move you when you come here. It also is what spirituality is about, just experiencing this," Caswell Burke said.
Protecting that natural beauty also guided the construction and operation of the site. The sanctuary was built in 2007, preserving as much of the existing buildings and trees as possible. Much of the wood trim inside came from trees grown right here.
"They tried to design it locally, build it locally, use local materials wherever we could, try to reuse as many materials as we could," property manager Christopher Davis said.
The old garage -- now the boiler room. Heating comes from earth-friendly biomass. Waste from the sawdust pellets is used as fertilizer on the farmland.
"Ultimately our goal is to be able to blend grass or hay grown on the property into a pellet and use that in this boiler," Davis explained.
"I go back to the American transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau who found spiritual connection through the environment," Reverend Mary Abele said.
Reverend Abele calls the environment a portal to the divine.
"That is how the environment reflects religion, how religion reflects the environment, we're clearing ourselves out to allow purity and spirit to come in and allow the connection with the divine to happen," she said.
A portal these members say is worth protecting.
Kate Duffy - WCAX News