Participants' Comments

Class of 2015

It all began with a dream - a dream where all of creation stood gathered round an altar of sorts, where our lives seemed to be woven together, where our divine intentions came together as one. A dream in which voices went arising, much like incense in prayers sent upward, and upon us all came a Love all embracing, drawing us together one to the other and all into the One. In wonder and amazement it seemed our eyes began to widen, the beat of our hearts quickened as if all were one; our minds fell quiet and held in the moment of only now, our wills somehow surrendering, our souls seeking the Ultimate Source of all Completion as the Mysterious and Most Beloved One, ever so tenderly and sweetly was beginning to Emerge. In the Presence of the Creator, notes evolved into symphonies, awkward and clumsy steps and movements slowly, miraculously seemed transformed - an otherwise ordinary dancer was almost effortlessly gliding along the floor, caught up in a Waltz Divine. Earth and wind, fire and water, the underworld, the upperworld, the world in between - the Now, the yesterday, the days still yet to come all seemed to come together in one, glorious AH! The heavens fell open and the earth bowed her lovely head, the Collective hum of Creation entered this Glorious Dance until the dancers became the Dance Herself - and the dream was no longer a dream but The Invitation to Dance and to be Danced. "An ordinary life (truly & gloriously) transformed!" Stephanie, I have no words for these past two years - I have just begun to dance. I am not certain where or with whom I will dance, so for now I will simply enjoy the music and wait - As you entrust me to the Dance and the Dancer, I still with awkwardness, need to look into your heart and offer these words, "You, Stephanie, have been such a precious presence, mentor, teacher, lead dancer, and discerning heart, I wonder how I will ever thank you? I have decided this - I will dance as gracefully, as lovingly, as tenderly, as prayerfully as you have - ! May the Dance of Creation go on and on and may we all, in holy time, learn to dance this dance together, for it is truly, the dance of all - may the dancers become the Dance." Dear Beloved One, thank you for this Dance. ~ Deb-Ellen Brown

These last two years sum up for me in one word - affirmation. Working through the seminary program with Rev. Stephanie served to reinforce many things that I had already come to realize on my own over the last few years. Studying many points of view brought together within me a deeper, more connected, fuller understanding of how to view all of creation and my place within it, allowing the sacred space within me to become more aware, more open, more bold, and more at the forefront of my life. This is the true space from which to live and be genuine. Bringing the sacred forward, however that happens, and living each moment from this space is our birthright. We are the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth, and as such it is our job to live our lives from that space of sacred light within our hearts, bringing that light to others in each and every moment, loving others as we wish to be loved. Most of us have just forgotten how to do this. There are many paths that help us find our way. Whatever path chooses us, we are to live it, fully aware in each moment, from a loving heart full of understanding and compassion for each other. My graduation marks the start of a new path, an affirmation that we are all connected, that there is a divine spark in all of us, and a deep understanding we all have the potential to remember this. My path going forward is, as it has always been - I had just forgotten, one of kindling other flames, and for remembering this, I am truly grateful. ~ Karen Manchester

This Tree of Life journey is unshakably rooted in my body and soul. My ministry is seeded by God, nourished by mantra, prayer, study, and reflection. My calling is budding, sweetened into blossom by the light that beckons. Lovingly, I've been humbled and exalted, pruned and nourished. I know not what flowers may grow of my ministry, but I do know the loving hand of the Gardener. My wish is to share the riot of color, the laughter of flowers, the industry of bees, the solace of scent and silence with you, as we walk this verdant maze together. ~ Cate Sementa.

Class of 2014

"I am grateful, honored and humbled to my knees to have found a "path of love" at TOL School for Sacred Living, Interfaith Seminary, which inspired/s my gifts and talents so that I may fulfill my true purpose and function, in service to God, Mankind, Nature, The Universe, The One Love. Thank you Rev. Stephanie for all you have done and all you do. My words alone are insufficient. There was a purpose and a destiny locked within me, and you have helped to set it free. I believe my most venerable gift is to Love and my most venerable purpose is to teach Love. It is what Jesus came to do, to love and to teach love, and to teach us to love one another. Love makes right all things. I have a vision grounded in this Love and unified in purpose, exercising a 'curriculum' that benefits the Wounded Spirits. I cannot do this alone, thus I am looking for other like-minded Brothers and Sisters to co-create this Vision with me. I envision a community with healing arts, creative gardening and inspirational living, a vision of a life that is more affirming, sustainable and spiritually fulfilling. For now I plan to lease a space, continuing my work as a Spiritual Guide, Teacher and Healer, allowing The Impulse to guide me, Extending the Love, Healing the Mind, and Unifying the Spirit." ~ Regina Bolden, Class of 2014

"The focus of my interfaith seminary experience has been on exploring my path to God as it applies to my life and my life's purpose. We have studied the Sikh, Sufi, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions as they apply to exploring the many paths to one God. Learning mantras, chants, dances, prayer, and meditation practices and incorporating them into my daily practice has assisted me in finding my path to God. Becoming an interfaith minister is, for me, the opportunity to share with the world the love in my heart with anyone who desires to be comforted and held in God's love. It's very personal, but at the same time it's my gift to share with the world." ~ Deborah Cort, Class of 2014

"A quarter century before I began seminary, my father lay dying and I sat by his side, his witness and aide de camp. Unbeknownst to me, Belov?d planted a seed in my heart that night. Two years ago, when my darling sister died suddenly, I didn't realize the seed had sprouted and now sported soft, almost translucent leaves. Today, the fruit hangs, full and pregnant with sweetness, from a branch on the Tree of Life; an interfaith ministry in hospice awaits. All Thanks, Rev. Stephanie! 'Sooner or later, the wound can carry us toward its own remedy, if we only let it.'" -Henry Shukman ~ Julia Eddy, Class of 2014

"I received my calling in April 2012. Over the last two years, I have heard the whisper of the Beloved grow stronger with each class that I shared with my sisters. Watching each of us grow into deep spiritual practices, spreading our wings fearlessly has been a great blessing. Joyous laughter, wrenching tears, faith and trust in one another, deep soul searching, all necessary to uncover our highest true nature and purpose in life. Our greatest blessing during this transformation was the complete unconditional and overwhelming love of our guide and teacher, Reverend Stephanie Rutt. Miigwetch. Thank you for this incredible life changing journey, Ecstatic Cry, Hugs and Kisses." ~ Peggy Marcellino, Class of 2014

"What an amazing and beautiful journey this has been with my fellow seminarians and our most talented and beloved teacher, Reverend Stephanie. I hope to continue with studies and service that support the spiritual healing of our planet. I believe that in order to heal the planet we must collectively realize that we are not separate - not from each other and not from our natural world - we are ONE." ~ Bonnie McKellar, Class of 2014

"From the first day of Interfaith Seminary school, I felt like I was beginning my journey to my whole self. I could hear somewhere deep inside my being, a great big bell that was ringing just for me, calling me to begin my journey home. Home to who I was created to be, and to what I was to do with the gift of my life. These last few years of seminary school has been one of the most beautiful and transformative experiences of my life. My vision for my ministry is to actively, and lovingly help, guide and serve where ever I am stationed." ~ Kristen Melanson, Class of 2014

"Experiencing the Tree of Life interfaith seminary class with Rev. Stephanie and my classmates for the past two years has truly transformed for me. I've learned how to cultivate the courage to share my writing in the world - "putting my gift on the table while remaining detached from the outcome." We've also had the privilege of studying the ancient Hindu sacred text the Bhagavad Gita, with Rev. Stephanie's luminous book An Ordinary Life Transformed: Lessons for Everyone from the Bhagavad Gita.

I feel so blessed to have shared this journey with Rev. Stephanie and my classmates, and it's with a tinge of sadness that I feel this chapter ending, but also a heart full of joy, excitement, and curiosity in anticipation of our next chapter's unfolding." ~ Camilla Sanderson, Class of 2014

"We are as the flute, and, the music in us is from thee..." - Rumi. As much as the thought seemed to be mine, for me to be in seminary, inside me an inner smile knows it was the Beloved that turned me toward the Tree of Life Interfaith Seminary Program, As the Crow Flies. To walk the Path of Crow, was to become awake to the music that lives in me, and to become joyFULLy tuned to play the Beloved's songs as the instrument I am meant to be. Seminary was consecrated time for self-discovery, through its teachings and spiritual practice. Awareness and reverence expanded through exploration of other faith traditions. I take the fruit from what has been planted in my spirit, and, go forward to serve in the area of Youth and Interfaith. My heart is full with love and gratitude to Reverend Stephanie Rutt, a shepherd who leads by the sound of her own ecstatic cry, which comes from her devotion and love of God, the Beloved. My Path of Crow sisters have been examples of spirit and soul-teachers. How the Beloved has blessed me! "Our wind whereby we are moved and our being are of thy gift; our whole existence is from thy bringing into being." -Rumi ~ Laurel Van Dyck, Class of 2014

Class of 2013

"My seminary experience has been for me a two-year Journey of Joy, a wonderful deepening of my connection to God/the Devine. No one is more surprised than I to find myself graced by God in this way, prepared to embark on my ministry of service. Thank you to the entire Tree of Life Family for the greatest teaching, the support, and love. I know I walk in God's love and hope to carry forth the message that if we can look through God's eyes, all we will see is love and kindness." ~ Nelson Stearns, Class of 2013

"This ministry training has truly been a life-changing experience. I feel more awake and alive, more conscious and responsible with my words and actions, and more able to live with an open heart and a deeper reverence for life and all beings. I plan to take this wonderful experience into the work I do with individuals and groups, as a therapist and teacher, in order to see each person in their wholeness, as a manifestation of Spirit. Thank you, Reverend Stephanie and my wonderful classmates!" ~ Beth Cohen, Class of 2013

"I came hoping to grow, to "free what waits within me," (Rainer Maria Rilke) and to surrender to the divine. I leave ready to "Open the window in the center of my chest, and let the spirits fly in and out." (Rumi)" ~ Ilona Kwiecien, Class of 2013

"I feel incredibly blessed and grateful to have been a part of this interfaith seminary program. My faith has deepened within my own traditions, and I now have travel companions to keep me company along my spiritual path. I have delved deep into my spirit and emerged with a clear vision - to help people connect with each other and with their own understanding of the Divine. My next steps will include a continuation of my spiritual songstress path, writing and sharing the songs that God places in my heart; writing a spiritual memoir, showing how I have blossomed "because of" not "in spite of"; and speaking with individuals and groups interested in deepening their own Connection." ~ Carrie Little, Class of 2013

Class of 2012

"The Tree of Life Seminary Program has been my anchor for the past two years. It has deepened my connection to the Beloved, opened my eyes to new horizons, and has kept me on course to listen, to cultivate and eventually to harvest my heart's desire. It has allowed me to trust in the course that the Divine has laid out for me, that I am enough! And that I am fully equipped to set sail with my ministry - offering my love, compassion, and presence to all the beautiful souls on the threshold of life and death." ~ Julie A. Beauchemin, Class of 2012

"Life is a journey that is very difficult to navigate at times. The seminary process has guided me through many rough seas. I believe there is an orchestration of the cosmos - guided by a gentle God - even in the face of adversity. If we can slow down and open our hearts, there are many Graces that can be discovered along the way. This, I have experienced. This, I need to remember as I walk my path." ~ Lisa A. Koziell-Betz, Class of 2012

"The Tree of LIfe Seminary has offered me an opportunity for very personal spiritual discovery." ~ Laurie Frances Biggers, Class of 2012

"Seminary was a journey of reconnecting with the Divine by sifting through the layers of resistance and discovering the gem in each experience along the way. I found the treasure itself to be the Sacred Space within my heart, the space which holds the Divine presence and my connection to all beings. I can't think of a better way to be of service than to live from this space." ~ Andrea Carta, Class of 2012

"This part of my journey through the Tree of Life Seminary has guided me to understand the manifestation of my ministry vision to serve those I love and all who have come and will come into contact with my life and service. I have cultivated a caring and spacious heart to truly be present for people through love, light, joy and laughter." ~ Lorrie F. Kuhn, Class of 2012

"I came to the Tree of Life following the call of the Crow. I have found friends, love and fellowship. I have found a spiritual foundation upon which I will build a Tree of Life community in the Manchester area." ~ Rita M. Legere, Class of 2012

"The time I spent in the seminary program put me at the knee of our teacher, Stephanie, as well as all the other beloved and wise members of our class. It allowed me to shed layers of resistance so I could land, softly and humbly, in the heart of God, surrendering myself to accept my higher calling. I am here. I am listening. "If you knew yourself for even one moment, if you could just glimpse your most beautiful face, maybe you wouldn't slumber so deeply in that house of clay. Why not move into your house of joy and shine into every crevice! For you are the secret treasure-bearer, and always have been. Didn't you know? - Move Into Your House of Joy - by Rumi ~ Clarice Smith, Class of 2012

Class of 2011

"My seminary experience has been internally rich and expansive. As always I have appreciated Stephanie's words and consolidation of broad thoughts into practical application! Her questions are the foundational impetus for self witnessing and growth. Without them it would be a course simply reviewing various religions, but the spiritual threads applied to ourselves allow for the self reflection that breaks through our barriers and broadens our personal perspective. This better prepares us for our service to humanity." ~ Jan Grossman, Class of 2011

"I have known the Reverend Stephanie Rutt for almost thirteen years. Over that period of time I have participated in many spiritual study classes with her, and am now enrolled in the As the Crow Flies Seminary. Stephanie has dedicated herself to the study and practice of a spiritual life. She brings great knowledge, wisdom, love and generosity to her students. Through these studies, one has the opportunity for self exploration, acceptance, and education that cultivates the essential elements for a life of service and deep contentment. We are so blessed to have this precious treasure here in our own backyard. ~ Barbara Burnes Landry, Class of 2011, Family Law Attorney, Yoga Instructor

"When I learned of the seminary program I was immediately interested in the ability to move closer to living my mission in life through completion of the program and, in large part, Rev Rutt's reputation to assist students of all levels in all facets of safe self exploration to come closer to their own divine nature in a joyful and caring way.

I am in gratitude for the opportunity to meet well known teachers of many faiths who came to offer the students their intimate practices and teaching from their traditions.Personally, the opportunity to become conscious of and release that which kept me from myself and therefore bringing my spritual practice fully into the world is a rich gift. And to do this in the framework of deep holding and joy, ummmmmmmmm...

Serious about yourself and your spiritual growth? Let that be enough of a reason to commit to the program. You will leave touched by what you learned, able to put the integrated self learning in practice in your daily life more than before, and filled with an increased sense of knowing who you are in relation to the universal life force energy." ~ Paula Fortier, Class of 2011

"It has become very clear to me that, if I am to deeply serve in the world, I need to apply earnest effort to looking and holding the most life-shaking challenges of my own life. My seminary experience has offered me the framework to dive in and rejoice in the journey. Thank you. ~ Sarah Brassard, Class of 2011

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