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Lea F. Schweitz
Are there any places in your life that, when you think of them, evoke a sense of “home” or rootedness? Do you remember a time when you were able to engage in unbridled play—perhaps in a field, a muddy creek, a back yard, or a favorite tree? Do you remember the utter freedom of it? The texture and light of that place and time?
Such memories are woven into our emotional and spiritual DNA; they remind us that our lives are located and rooted in particular places. Places intrinsically shape us and our stories, from the simple to the epic—seas, lakeshores, rivers, desserts, caves, borderlands, prairies, mountaintops. But modern humans often lack a deep sense of connection to the places we inhabit, being busy, preoccupied, or car-bound. Many of us are riddled with a sense of dislocation and disconnection.
A fresh counter to this experience is the art of spiritual landscaping—a set of practices that enable us to cultivate rich spiritual awareness and a renewed land ethic. Spiritual landscaping practices enfold Christian disciplines and support joyful play; they help us relocate ourselves and deepen connections with our ecology and the places we inhabit every day.
Join theologian Lea Schweitz to explore and reflect on the shaping power of place and begin to metaphorically map your unique spiritual landscape during a half-day workshop at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Through instruction and play, we will learn practices that help us deepen connections with the places we inhabit and better understand the beauty of God’s call to rest, to be joyful (play), and to genuinely connect to the natural world. Join us as we seek to productively take time, pay attention, and adopt new ways of being in the places that shape us.
9:00 AM Session 1 — Knowing Our Place
9:50 AM — Pass the Peace Play Time
10:15 AM Session 2 —Displacement and Faithful Way-finding
11:20 AM — Garden Games Play Time
11:50 PM Lunch served
12:00 PM Session 3 — Practicing the Art of Spiritual Landscaping in the Wild and at Home
1:00 PM Closing
Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 ATWOOD AVENUE, Madison, WI 53704
Registration and Lunch
Pre-registration required. Free event and lunch.
Lea F. Schweitz is an interdisciplinary theologian, Christian nature educator, and nature play consultant, who earned her Ph.D. in philosophy of religion at the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Luther College in biology and philosophy. The co-founder of Nature120, a nonprofit organization that provides nature play and airway therapy for children on Chicago’s west side, Lea is also the Director of Children’s Education for Yorkfield Presbyterian Church. Previously Lea spent more than a decade as the Director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science and as a tenured professor at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
A through-line of Lea’s vocational path has been a consistent call to teach folks to love the wild, both in the movement of the Holy Spirit and the seasons of Midwest living. Currently, she is working on a book that reimagines urban nature as a locus for theological reflection and spiritual formation. She lives in Oak Park, IL with her musician/composer spouse, Kurt, and her two wildly inspiring sons.
What to bring
- Journal or notebook to use during a nature exploration activity
- Writing instrument
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Sunglasses or sunhat and sunscreen
- Phone camera
What we provide
- Small writing pads in case you didn’t bring a journal or notebook from home
- Coffee, tea, and bakery upon arrival
- Postcards for activity