Grotto of Sacred Naturalism
The Grotto of Sacred Naturalism, Ocean Seminary College's ecclesiastical organization, is founded centrally on the premise that Nature is essential to one's communal experience with and illumination of the wisdom and love of the Divine. Central to this premise is the assumption that spiritual, physical, and emotional health is based on a restored, sacred, and vibrant connection with the Earth. Through the restoration of human-beings to the community of Nature, individuals may come to see and know the Divine as both transcendent (dwelling outside) and immanent (dwelling within).
A core principle of Nature is diversity. Ecosystems that are diverse in both resources and biological life are resilient and adaptable. As this is a guiding principle of Nature, so it is a manifestation of a guiding principle of the Divine. As such the Grotto of Sacred Naturalism is an inclusive church and path. Its alignment with the natural process of diversity manifests in the following ways:
1. The Grotto of Sacred Naturalism holds that all religious paths may be restored to Nature and become a source for personal spiritual revelation, with no one religious path being more true than another.
2. It holds that all human beings, regardless of age, religious orientation, gender, health status, class, sexual orientation, race, language and ethnicity are equally valuable and each a manifestation of the Divine. By embracing all individuals into the communal place of worship, we may experience the presence of the Divine.
3. Further it holds nonhuman animals are of equal value to human beings and equally en-souled with the presence of the Divine. By welcoming our nonhuman brethren into our cultural lives and working actively to protect them, we may become increasingly aware of the Divine's true appearance and reawaken our perception of our everyday awareness of our sacred relationship to the Divine.
With guiding principles of diversity and inclusivity, the Grotto of Sacred Naturalism does not seek to convert or exclude any individual. Additionally the Grotto of Sacred Naturalism does not endorses any religious-cultural doctrines or aspects of "sacred" texts that promote structural violence (institutionalized policies that permit the subjugation of any group of individuals and places them at risk for physical and psychological harm) or direct violence (doctrine that encourages and enables individuals to engage in harmful actions toward others within and outside their community). In this fashion the Grotto of Sacred Naturalism follow specific Natural relational values in its conduct with its parishioners:
1. Mutualism-whereby the Grotto upholds the relational value of equal and non-harming support, personal responsibility, and the capacity to perspective take. It engages in a manner that ensures that all parties involved are benefited in their spiritual growth.
2. Facilitation-whereby the Grotto upholds the relational value of aiding of others, without self-sacrifice and personal harm, and fostering a commitment to the spiritual growth, health and well-being of all members.
3. Cooperation-whereby the Grotto upholds the relational value of creating an inclusive climate that calls upon all members to engage in cooperative, non-competitive action. It seeks to restore each member's sense of relatedness to a spiritual, cultural and nature-based ecosystem in which each member's actions reverberate within the whole and have value.
Spiritual services are conducted by Dr. Rev. Katherine Batten MacDowell and by students and graduates of the Ocean Seminary College. Online worship services vary and range from shamanic-based services and sacred days to more traditional services. Please visit our Community Outreach and Services page for current listings of services.