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Carolyn Toben is an educator, counselor, grandmother and extraordinary creator of programs that offer individuals and groups spiritual renewal and reconnection with the natural world. She lives and creates out of Timberlake Earth Sanctuary, her family land in Whitsett, about forty-five minutes west of Chapel Hill. In 2000, Carolyn founded what is now the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World, a Center that continues to offer children and teachers new understandings of the human-earth relationship.
Carolyn recently wrote a book, Recovering a Sense of the Sacred, based on conversations with her dear friend Father Thomas Berry, whose work on honoring creation is known around the world. She travels around the country and beyond to talk about the book and lead retreats. During her time with us, Carolyn will lead us through an experience of “Beholding” as a way of healing the human-earth relationship.
Church members Hiawatha Demby and Scott Sheppard, both of whom have longstanding experience with energy reduction strategies, will offer participants practical recommendations for honoring creation through our household habits.
Carolyn Toben and church member Cely Chicurel will guide participants through reflections on the morning’s outdoor discovery experience followed by creating an image that can can be displayed in a common area in each home, reminding participants to continue to practice beholding throughout the forty days of Lent.
Church member Natalie Boorman, a potter and therapist, will lead this program of exploration with a gift from the earth: clay. Several years ago Natalie led a memorable and much-lauded workshop during the church retreat at Blowing Rock in which children and adults created together, sometimes wordlessly, in a beautiful process of both self- and mutual expression and understanding. For those who recall that experience, this workshop will be a welcome reprise; for those who were not able to attend, this will be a unique opportunity to deepen your faith as you create with clay.
Church member and choir member Craig Smith will lead this uplifting hour of singing. Participants will review or learn for the first time some of the most moving and delightful hymns of creation, from Morning Has Broken to God of the Sparrow, participants will enjoy this hour of music together—and may even want to sing for the whole group before the retreat concludes!
Chas Edens (no relation to our co-pastors) is the Executive Director and Farm Manager of Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove; he also works part-time at NCSU developing Sustainable Agriculture curriculum. His session will provide theological background on Anathoth’s history and belief about the sacred nature of soils—and its fruits. Chas will also share information about Anathoth’s 2015 HarvestShare/Community Supported Agriculture Program.
Church member and poet Sherry Siddall will share a selection of poignant and moving poems written by Christian believers over the ages in response to the wonders of the natural world. Participants will have time to reflect on each poem and will come away with a word or phrase that will inspire them to practice beholding throughout the Lenten season.