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Letters by Sarah Vekasi
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Dearest friends,

            As you can imagine, a lot has happened since last I wrote. Thank you for all of your heartfelt responses to my last letter right after the Mountain Mobilization. All of our friends are out of jail now, thanks to the support of many of you, and I, quite honestly, am still recovering. That past letter was shared through social networking and blog sites, and I received letters from throughout West Virginia and Kentucky, as well as across the country, from people I have yet to meet, sharing gratitude, concern for our well-being, curiosity for ideas I may have for a more civil discourse in the coal-impacted mountain communities, etc. I’ve been trying to respond to each letter, while also noticing my own limits being pretty stretched from these past three years of balancing economic survival while offering eco-chaplaincy in the movement to end mountaintop removal coal mining. I am going a bit slower than usual, so if you haven’t heard from me yet, you will. I went to Virginia for an Alliance for Appalachia steering committee meeting soon after the mobilization, and realized that the time has come for me to go at a different speed for a bit to renew my energy. I am taking my own advice that I teach in, “Movement Self-Care: Resiliency in Action,” and am currently taking a break from serving in actions to focus on offering individual pastoral counseling, facilitating workshops, and leading trainings, so that I can restore my strength. I am also making pottery and enjoying my family, and look forward to dedicating time for visioning to develop a clear path for the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative for this next year.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and to celebrate, my parents are here visiting me from Maine, and soon we will all travel further south to be with my sister and her husband. I love celebrating birthdays in so much that I love taking time out to acknowledge beginnings, notice the phenomena of aging, and make room for active reflection and appreciation each year. Whether you want to take time out at your birthday, or another time, I encourage each of you to formally schedule time for reflection each year. I have been thinking about these past seven years developing eco-chaplaincy including the three working here in Appalachia, and how much I have experienced and learned. Nothing makes me come alive more than sharing all of the stories and skills I have received with active communities and organizers living for the greater good. Thank you for supporting me in this work. It is so amazing really, to be able to live in service to a movement, and to be supported by so many of you from all over the country and world.

It is a big time to be alive and engaged in this world – the stakes of our survival are evident and the potential to make a difference in our collective fate is more clear than ever. I am currently developing an eco-chaplaincy apprenticeship program, and look forward to telling yall more about it in the future. As we all plan out this next year, please consider hiring me to lead a workshop, resiliency trainings or skill-shares in restorative approaches to conflict resolution, and counseling sessions with you and your organization, college, group, etc. Furthermore, please consider becoming a monthly donor to the Eco-Chaplaincy Initiative, even $10/month goes a long way. All donations are tax-deductible and you can sign up to be a monthly donor at http://www.ecochaplaincy.net/donate.html or donate by check through the mail at PO Box 890, Swannanoa, NC 28778.


Much love and solidarity to all of you,