I grew up in a steel town in Ohio, where industry rather than Nature played a huge role. I also existed in a very strict Byzantine Catholic environment, where I was sent to a Catholic girls’ school which was equally strict, and upon graduation I got married young, and worked as a secretary, and then later became a nurse. It seemed that even during my young adult years I was oblivious of the importance Nature should play in my life. As a result, the jobs I took and the religions I followed seemed to lack something for me, but I still did not realize what that might be.
When my husband and I chose to adopt five developmentally delayed siblings, this was when I found myself as a stay-at-home mom as their needs turned to be a lot more serious than we were told. It was far from an easy experience, however, because we made a commitment, we stuck with it, and it was during that time I began to realize some things about myself, for one, my love of animals, therefore, during this time, I opened and ran an animal sanctuary for fourteen years. I realize now that I probably did this not only because I loved animals but also because I thought it would be good therapy for the children. However, I think I also did this as I needed some positive relief from the difficult situation we were experiencing with the children. I also began to take online classes with Liberty University and I eventually graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg VA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies, a Master of Arts in Religion Degree, and a Master of Divinity Degree. It was during that time I spent more time searching my soul, and, as a result, I began to feel that there was much more to spirituality than what I was being taught, not only as a child but also while moving through other religious belief systems. This was when I stepped away from established religions entirely and began my journey to discover my own truth.
Because of this desire for truth, I was led to taking Eco-Art classes, which was a year-long program, after which I had received a Certificate in Eco-Art Therapy. Because of a deep spiritual awakening I began experiencing in Nature, I found myself at Global Ministries University where I took a Creation Spirituality class, through the teachings of Rev. Matthew Fox. It was because of these two experiences that I was discovering a new and deeper connection, not only with my true self, but also with Nature, and especially with a God who is unlike the one taught to me in my younger years. This then brought me to a place where I had a desire to become a minister with a focus in eco-spirituality, as I felt too many established religions lack this focus on creation, and this let me to the School of Peace in Asheville NC, where I completed a year-long ministry program and became an Ordained Interfaith Minister with a focus in Ecospirituality. This then led me to a realization that my hyper-sensitivity towards my fellow creatures, and for Nature, was a gift not a curse, a trait I was often criticized for in my younger years. So, I then became eager to learn more and I soon found, and completed a program at Emerson Theological Institute, where I became an Ordained Animal Chaplain and Animal Bereavement Facilitator.
For the last 5 years I have worked in this field and have personally established a non-profit called Heart-To-Heart All Creatures Ministry, which is both online and local. Due to the Covid shutdown, however, I have been, once again, spending a lot of time going inward and reflecting where I wish my ministry to go from here. As a result, I found myself returning to Global Ministries University, when they began a new program in Creation Spirituality and Environmental Justice, and just this past April, I completed my Doctor of Ministry in this area. It is important to note here that in order to receive this degree, I had to complete a project, so I began to compile a text for a class that would teach others about their own spiritual connection to creation, and this would be done through interactive Eco-Art Activities through the eyes of Creation Spirituality. It is now in the process of being accepted by the university where I hope to begin teaching the class soon. Although I still plan to continue my focus in animal chaplaincy, I feel that the opportunity to teach this class will spread the news farther, and wider, that it is important that we respect and revere our Nature family by respecting and caring for the Earth and all the creatures we live with on this beautiful planet. I am also working on private Earth-based spiritual sessions so that I might work with people, individually, here on my beautiful six acres, in order to help them see that much of their troubles stem from the fact that we have separated ourselves from Creation rather than realizing that we are all one.
It should be obvious that my journey has been a long one, and has taken many different paths, some pleasant ones and some which were not so pleasant, and sure I wish I had understood so many of these things before my later years, but I feel that if it did not all turn out the way it did, I may not have realized what I have come to know today: that “everything in nature resonates with the force of the Divine Spirit. Each animal, plant, bird, and stone reflect this spirit in its own way. The more you are able to align with it, and create your own resonance, the easier it will be to understand what nature is saying” (Andrews, T., 2010). Through this knowledge I am now living a more joyful, and richer, life as I now have a more secure grasp of my own self, and of those things which exist around me, through a new knowledge which has been born of a deep spiritual unconsciousness within me, and which now bears fruit in all I do, and how I live my life.
Heart-To-Heart All Creatures Ministry ([email protected])