Ariel Aaronson-Eves is an aspirant for Unitarian Universalist ministry and MDiv student at Starr King School for the Ministry. Prior to enrolling at Starr King she spent six years working in the fields as a farmer, experiencing everything from isolated cattle ranches to urban educational farms, growing everything from fish to flowers. As she worked the land with her body and connected with people through food and flowers, her spirituality and senses of self and community blossomed. She dreams of a world in which the intention and intimacy she experienced between her body, her food, and her environment can be experienced by all, and is called to explore deeper economic and systems change that may make this possible in a non-exploitative way. Called to “agricultural chaplaincy,” Ariel came to seminary to develop stronger pastoral care and organizing skills to better support farmers, and to explore how religious communities can connect people with the depth of meaning and magic latent in their food. At Starr King she received a Hilda Mason fellowship to teach “Counter-Oppressive Agrarian Theologies,” a course that seeks to ground a food movement based on the liberation of all.

She is interested in the EcoFaith Practicum as a way to further develop her leadership skills, with the support and accountability of a cohort, as she brings her agrarian perspective and ideas into her congregational internship in Maine. She hopes to further develop the language to communicate – especially to Unitarian Universalists – the spiritual richness of a deeper relationship with food. She is also looking forward to exploring the kind of practical climate justice work that is possible on a congregational level.

Current Engagement with The Practices

As I read over the seven practices, my mind’s eye drew a garden, a farm. It is in the work, the spiritual practice, of organic farming, at least in its ideal form, that I engage fully in all of these practices. As I work with the land, ACTing together with people and plants and animals to co-create flourishing life, DEVELOPing relationships with all those beings and forms I encounter, my body and life is RESTOREd to balance with the world around me and I ACCESS the divine that moves through all. The repetitive tasks offer spacious time to REFLECT, and as I both learn and teach I experience authentic MENTORship. Through all this, as I make sense of the past and work towards the future, I DISCOVER, explore, and  realize stories.

I recognize in my soul’s deep longing for that life my compass. I do not aim to find that kind of fulfillment elsewhere – but recognizing that I, presently, and most of the world’s population, don’t get to experience that, I want to find ways to engage these practices more deeply even in estrangement. In particular, how might I ACCESS spiritual power within myself and not just in relationship to the world around me? I also seek more confidence in reaching out to build the relationships that sustain me. I feel like I engage most of these practices pretty naturally on a personal basis, and at least intellectually engage them in the public sphere, but seek to develop stronger skills on how to do the work interpersonally and within a community.

Practicum Focus

I would be most excited about campaigns that would tangibly impact people’s daily experienced lives – i.e., I’d be more interested in starting a garden or composting than putting in solar panels. I’m interested in working with people to explore how we live our values in our daily lives, and how living ethically can connect us to spirit.

I don’t have much experience with congregational campaigns, and lack confidence in my ability to lead them. I played a support role in an unsuccessful campaign to get Starr King to join the Green Seminary Initiative.

I’m interested in building better leadership skills for ecological organizing, and being guided and held accountable by a cohort and the explicit commitment that being in this program offers. It is easy enough for me to preach prophetically on ecological and other issues, but much scarier to work collaboratively with a congregational team around a project. I would like to, in my internship, plant a garden (literal or metaphorical) that I have faith will be well-tended and fruitful after I have left. While I have done this before elsewhere, it has often involved acting out of my impatience. I would like to grow in myself more patience with the process and trust and openness to others. I would like this growth to help me inspire others to action.