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The Boundless Field of Ecological Chaplaincy

From Wendy Johnson at Tricycle:

One of the oldest derivations of the word “chaplain” harkens back to 4th-century France when Saint Martin of Torres, upon encountering a freezing cold man at the winter gates of his city, immediately removed his cloak, cutting it in half to clothe the suffering citizen. Saint Martin is now considered the founder of Christian chaplaincy. What I particularly appreciate about this story is that after sharing his cloak, he kept one half of the garment for himself so that he could continue to serve. Chaplains in the fold of Saint Martin are people of faith performing religious duties in a secular situation, creating chapels of refuge in the heart of the world.

The Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program at Upaya Zen Center was founded about a decade ago by Abbot Roshi Joan Halifax, who is also one of the early members of the Zen Peacemaker Order. Around the time that the chaplaincy program began, a small cohort and I planted an organic garden at the eastern edge of the meditation hall, selecting only food crops that have been a staple for Native Pueblo people since antiquity. The garden has been growing there ever since, providing a bounty of nutrient-dense food for the Zen community.

These two foundational programs—Buddhist chaplaincy and organic gardening—continue to thrive side-by-side, and likewise have remained inextricably linked in a common ecology of the heart.

Chaplain candidates are vigorously trained in altruistic service, steeped in the applied teachings of systems theory and grounded in daily meditation. While at Upaya, they are nourished by the traditional crops of persistent agriculture until they graduate and enter into a full range of chaplaincy service including contemplative end-of-life care, prison ministry, environmental chaplaincy, and active peacemaking.

Read more at Tricycle.