116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
HIAWATHA — An annual spring conference at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Hiawatha broadens the concept of spirituality to go much further than a relationship with God.
'For Prairiewoods, spirituality is a very large umbrella of what we find most profound,' said Laura Weber, associate director and retreat coordinator at Prairiewoods, 120 E. Boyson Rd. 'We take a broader look at the planet, how it is we fit in to the bigger universe.'
That's what the two-day Spirituality in the 21st Century conference is really meant to focus on; the Earth and its needs.
'The truth is, we're decimating the planet, and it's a tragedy,' Weber said. 'This is not so much about the 'me and God' kind of spirituality but which special spirituality is most animate for us, what really binds us together.'
This year's conference, 'Evolutionary Consciousness: Somewhere to Begin,' is set for Friday and May 2 at St. Pius X Church in Cedar Rapids. Cost is $75. People can register online.
'We're in a pretty difficult place as a planet,' Weber said. 'The soil is toxic. The water is toxic, We have widespread famine, and we have these very, very divisive leaders. We're handing future generations a world that has been really decimated, and we need to step up and do something about it.'
The Spirituality in the 21st Century conference started in 2000, when a group of Franciscan nuns wanted to invite people to understand the greater mission of Prairiewoods, Weber said. The goal was to create a greater understanding of the general decay facing the planet and how people can come together to stop and correct that decay. 'They designed this Spirituality in the 21st Century to invite people to tap into their own spirituality,' Weber said. 'This year's conference focuses on how we even begin. This is a place to engender hope. Part of this conference will show how we as a group are more connected than we are divided, and that we have a greater chance now than ever to save the planet and go forward as one united people.'
Gail Worcelo is the scheduled speaker for 7 p.m. Friday. She is a nun and co-founder of the Green Mountain Monastery in Vermont, which focuses on eco-spirituality. She will lead a discussion on what society is learning from and about ecology and how it affects us on a daily basis. 'She talks quite a bit about humanity being in motion, and helps us to take a cosmic leap from thinking about ourselves as individuals and now seeing us as a collective, as one body,' Weber said. 'That really makes a difference in how we go about our day and how we go about our lives.'
The May 2 presenter is Sara Thomsen, an acoustic musician and songwriter.'She writes a lot about not only the deterioration of the planet but how do we fix it,' Weber said.
'Her whole message is basically the same thing that was going on in the '60s. Music is very much an emotive art and can unite people.'