CANMORE – Green Exodus is a new online community dedicated to connecting people who feel a deep bond with nature and who want to explore the meaning in that with other like-minded souls.
“It is for people who experience nature as a sacred place, however they would define it,” said Greg Wooley, a minister with Ralph Connor Memorial United Church in Canmore.
“They might be someone who is actively involved in a church community, or a religious community of another faith. It might be someone who would describe themselves as spiritual, but not religious. It might even be someone that just senses that there is something bigger than themselves when they’re outdoors.”
A concern for the health of the planet often grows from those feelings of connectedness, and Calgary’s Sarah Arthurs had the beginnings of an idea for a new online community in the fall of 2020, one that sought to join people together as they delve into their thoughts, feelings and ideas.
The Bow Valley seemed like an appropriate place to host the first month of meetings for the group.
“I would call her the vision keeper,” Rev. Wooley said. “Each year, the church has something called the Season of Creation, and she felt moved to start a blog and to start really thinking about this combination of going deep spiritually and connecting that with being active for the planet.”
In the month of February, Canmore will host the first round of Green Exodus online. The Friday afternoon meetings start at 4 p.m. and are an hour and a half long. Feb. 5 and Feb. 19 are designated as "empty cup" sessions, and Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 are "full cup" sessions.
“The ‘empty cup’ sessions are going to be looking more at the contemplative side of it, the spiritual side. So, spending time in prayer and guided meditation,” Rev. Wooley said. “We do have a person with a strong background in Buddhist practice that is going to be helping us with some of that.”
The session will have similar elements to the weekly contemplative service at the church, called Evensong.
The "full cup" sessions are more action oriented and could help people who are motivated to try and realign the human relationship with the Earth, but who may not know how to get started. Local “green” initiatives, proposals and hopes are things that will be shared.
“It might be some local people that are already deeply involved in directly addressing the needs of nature in the Bow Valley, combined with people who are just starting to think about it,” Rev. Wooley said.
The hope is participants come away from the sessions with a better understanding of their connection to nature, and if they are motivated, to take action, no matter how big or small, to protect it.
Organizers plan on holding Green Exodus meetings every couple of months, with a different Alberta community taking over the hosting duties in order to nurture and grow the concept of local context and global perspective.
Go to greenexodus.ca to take part in the first Green Exodus online gatherings. Registration is free, and everyone is welcome.