A Virtual Eco-Poetry Retreat

Eco-poetry is more than a poem about nature. It’s a powerful way for us to feel the realities of our ecological crisis, and it urges us toward transformation.

This four-part retreat will bring Laudato Si’ into conversation with verse in a way that sustains us for this journey of ecological transformation.

 

Eco-poetry is more than appreciating nature. It grapples with contemporary ecological issues, and humanity’s place—whether harmonious or destructive—within the environment. Eco-poetry deals with all of the ways that human and non-human life are entangled, and frequently features themes such as economics, culture, and politics. 

According to poet John Shoptaw, “An ecopoem is environmentalist not only thematically, in that it represents environmental damage or risk, but rhetorically: it is urgent, it aims to unsettle… Ecopoetry is nature poetry that has designs on us, that imagines changing the ways we think, feel about, and live and act in the world.”

Each retreat module will focus on one theme from Laudato Si’, pairing it with one poem. You are encouraged to move through reflection and prayer at your own pace, though we recommend spending about an hour with each module. 

For additional resources, including a slide deck, the poem text for all 4 modules, and additional poems, click here.

Module 1: The Mystery of the Universe

Opening Prayer

Spend about five minutes in centering prayer using the poem and prompt.

Theme Introduction and Reflection

Watch this brief reflection on the mystery of the universe (minutes 7:40-14:00) from retreat creator MegAnne Liebsch. You can also access the full recording of the live retreat here.

Play Video

"Eagle Poem" by Joy Harjo

Read the poem twice, then consider the reflection questions. Spend about 20 minutes in prayer with the poem and questions. You may wish to journal or use other prayer methods.

Reflect

What lines from the poem stand out to you? Have you experienced everyday mysticism? In what way? How does your faith influence how you understand science and natural mysteries?

Laudato Si'

Consider “Eagle Poem” in light of the Laudato Si’ quotes below. As you pray with these quotes, you may wish to journal or use other methods of reflection.

“Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.

To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfillment.”

(Laudato Si’ 12, 233, 222)

Closing Prayer

Spend five minutes reflecting on the graces received from this module.

Module 2: The Harmony of Creation & Joy

Opening Prayer

Spend about five minutes in centering prayer using the prayer and prompt.

Theme Introduction and Reflection

Watch this brief reflection from MegAnne Liebsch on the harmony of creation (minutes 7:30-11:00). You can also access the full recording of the live retreat here.

Play Video

Reflect

What lines of the poem stick out to you? In this poem, the author personifies Yellowstone’s rejuvenation, comparing its fragility and its bounty to motherhood and childbirth. How does this comparison inform your relationship to divine Creation?

"Trophic Cascade" by Camille T. Dungy

Read the poem twice, then consider the reflection questions. Spend about 20 minutes in prayer with the poem and questions. You may wish to journal or use other prayer methods.

Courtesy of Poems.com

Laudato Si'

Consider “Trophic” in light of the Laudato Si’ quotes below. As you pray with these quotes, you may wish to journal or use other methods of reflection.

"Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another.

God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.”

Laudato Si' (42, 89)

Closing Prayer

Spend about five minutes reflecting on the graces received from this module.

Module 3: Anthropocentrism

Opening Prayer

Spend about five minutes in centering prayer using the poem and prompt.

Theme Introduction and Reflection

Watch this brief reflection on anthropocentrism (minutes 5:15-10). You can also access the full recording here.

Play Video

"God's Grandeur"
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Read the poem twice, then consider the reflection questions. Spend about 20 minutes in prayer with the poem and questions. You may wish to journal or use other prayer methods.

Courtesy of Poetry Foundation

Reflect

What lines from the poem stand out to you? The author rejects the notion that nature is “spent.” Have you seen Nature recover from anthropocentric harms? How has this impacted you?

Laudato Si'

Consider “God’s Grandeur” in light of the Laudato Si’ quotes below. As you pray with these quotes, you may wish to journal or use other methods of reflection.

"A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.

Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.”

Laudato Si' (122, 32)

Closing Prayer

Spend about five minutes reflecting on the graces received from this module.

Module 4: Ecological Conversion

Opening Prayer

Spend about five minutes in centering prayer. Reflect on one grace you seek from this retreat module. Acknowledge the feelings you bring to this space.

Theme Introduction and Reflection

Watch this brief reflection on anthropocentrism (minutes 5:15-10). You can also access the full recording here.

Play Video

"Practical Water" by Brenda Hillman

Read the poem twice, then consider the reflection questions. Spend about 20 minutes in prayer with the poem and questions. You may wish to journal or use other prayer methods.

Courtesy of Practical Water (2009)

Reflect

What lines from the poem stand out to you? The author rejects the notion that nature is “spent.” Have you seen Nature recover from anthropocentric harms? How has this impacted you?

Laudato Si'

Consider “Practical Water” in light of the Laudato Si’ quotes below. As you pray with these quotes, you may wish to journal or use other methods of reflection.

"We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. Saint Therese of Lisieux invites us to practise the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship. An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness.

Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world…In this framework, along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social dynamics, we should realize that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.”

Laudato Si' (229-231)

Closing Prayer

Spend about five minutes reflecting on the graces received from this module.

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