Sister Janet Speth: What is Ecosprituality?
In this personal reflection, Sister Janet Speth CSJ offers an introduction to her Ministry of Ecospirituality, sharing her keen interest in exploring the dialogue between ecology and faith.
Ecospirituality brings together ecology and faith, recognizing that everything in creation is sacred. It invites us to understand how humans are deeply connected to the Earth. In ecospirituality, we humans are one part the Earth's life systems. We and all living things share in God's divine life.
New and daily discoveries in science are showing us the deep unity of all creation and how humans are negatively affecting the health of the planet by our lifestyles and actions. Climate change is the one issue that we can no longer ignore.
When we neglect caring for Earth, we neglect to honour the interrelatedness of all creation. We need to become more aware of our moral and ethical responsibilities to ensure the flourishing of all life.
Within ecospirituality, environmental and ecological threats are not only a scientific concern, they represent a spiritual crisis.
Personally, I experienced the intersection of faith and science from a very early age. My father was a geologist and my mother was a very devout Catholic woman.
When I was 8-years-old, I studied the Baltimore catechism, a manual outlining church teaching and faith instruction. From this manual, I learned that God is love. It suddenly occurred to me that if this were true, then God was much bigger than this one manual. Beyond these teachings, there would be a multitude of ways to love God and creation. Science would be one of those ways. I went on to study biology, chemistry and physics to become a physical therapist. Later, as a Sister of St. Joseph of Toronto, I studied theology.
Currently, I work with different faith communities on a number of ecological concerns, all seeking to create opportunities where people can experience a connection between science and their faith.
One of these opportunities is an annual retreat conference called the Elderberry Connection. Here, participants reflect on sacred relationships in creation. We consider what actions are needed to build healthy relationships between humans and the world we share with all other life.
Through science and religion, I continue to experience the wonder, awe and beauty of creation and the sacredness of all life. I believe in these times of ecological concerns, our call as Christians is to work with others for the common good of Earth.
Sister Janet Speth CSJ