How My Thinking Has Changed
Formerly, I assumed that we humans were centre-stage and all else in creation was a backdrop to serve us. Then I had a change of heart. I saw that if humans were to disappear, the Earth would get along just fine. But if the earth were to become too polluted or devastated to continue, we humans wouldn't last at all. I'm developing a new sensitivity about who we are in the scheme of things.
It happened like this. In 1997 one of our Sisters sent us a kit called "Earth Covenant - Earth Charter: Ecological Wisdom and Action for the 21st Century." She suggested we pass it along.
Meanwhile, Sister Janet Fraser was just returning from Genesis Farm, Earth Literacy Center in New Jersey. She had a great desire to share what she had learned but was not quite sure how she would do this. Imagine her surprise at finding a ready-made group eager to learn. And so our "Cherish the Earth" group was born.
Together we examined the kit which contained Michael Dowd's video, "A New Creation Story." I was captivated by his spirited narration of our evolutionary history. Then we studied his small book called EarthSpirit, a handbook for nurturing an ecological Christianity.
Next came the 12 videos of Brian Swimme, "Canticle to the Cosmos." He is a mathematical cosmologist who tells the unfolding story of the universe not only with scientific facts but also with a sense of the awesomeness and mystery of it all and with humour. I was enthralled.
And so began our new way of seeing. We, who are one of the latest to arrive in evolution, are critically important because we have a consciousness, an awareness of the awesomeness and mystery of creation and can be co-creators in its healthy evolution. At the same time, everything else belongs, has a right to be here and is not intended just to serve humans. The image of the circle, as opposed to the ladder, speaks eloquently to me of how all of creation has a place.
It was also significant to me to learn that the smallest particles in creation, the building blocks of everything else, are always seen in two's and three's, never in isolation. It's as if the entire universe is created to be in relationship. Our Christian faith speaks of a trinity of persons. Our charism as Sisters of St. Joseph calls us to work towards unity of persons with one another, with us and with God. Now I'm seeing our charism as expanding to include the whole of creation since we are inter-connected and inter-supported. We are all part of the one web of life — all in relationship.
With the help of monthly meetings, reflection, discussion and prayer, workshops and retreats, I was gradually experiencing an inner conversion. Instead of doing ecologically friendly things out of a sense of duty or guilt, which depleted my energy, I found myself willing to become involved out of a sense of kinship with the whole. Moreover, in our local community we share this common vision and so are a support and challenge to one another. We are gradually integrating what we are thinking with how we are living.
As I reflect back, I feel grateful for the invitation to grow in awareness and to live out of it. From our learning, the Cherish the Earth group continues to offer programmes in earth literacy and spirituality whenever we are invited.
Peggy Bach CSJ
Reproduced online courtesy of Catholic New Times
Jan. 16, 2005