On May 28th and 29th, 2019, faith leaders, scientists and scholars from the humanities gathered at the Loka Symposium. The topic was faith and action for a flourishing planet, and we explored how we might build relationships and make change together.


From left to right: Roshi Joan Halifax, Jan Vertifeuille, Nana Firman, Juanita Cabrera Lopez, Dekila Chungyalpa, Venerable Damcho Diana Finnnegan, Lori DiPrete Brown, Musonda Mumba

I was so grateful for this meeting. There were so many conversations and confluences there for me. It was convened by UW-Madison, where I have been working and teaching for over 15 years. It was held at the Holy Wisdom Monastery where I am an Oblate — one of the places in this world where I feel at home. And it brought together faith, science and the humanities, inviting me to revisit the ideas that led me to pursue joint degrees in public health and theology at Harvard in the late 1980s!

This photo captured a very special moment – women of many traditions gathered after our morning mediation overlooking the prairie. We had prayed together, women and men from different traditions, sharing sacred texts and reading nature herself — the earth, air, water, the trees we have known… Gender justice was not formally on the agenda in this meeting, but it was on our minds. Ae we began to disperse someone said in a hushed tone (not because it was secret, but because we had just come out of shared mediation action) “a picture of the women” and this photo come together. I’d like to think we formed ourselves into some sort of tree for a moment — intertwined limbs from so many places.  Sharing the desire to offer sustenance, shelter, beauty and shade to our world. Remembering the unbelievable depth of roots, how they can hold the soil and the earth itself together. Not a new beginning, we know too much for that …. but perhaps a new season where we build on the wisdoms of the world, and learn to live in harmony with life and the earth herself in new ways.