Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A Mother Earth Mother's Day

Moodling online has gone out the window with Spring's arrival. So much to do outdoors, and so little time!

But this past Mother's Day weekend, I had nothing but time with my best friend, who lives in Duncan, BC. Instead of presents for our birthdays, we decided to enjoy each others' presence. And it just so happened that my visit with Cathy coincided with a Cowichan 101 session offered by some elders of the Cowichan Tribe in the form of a trip to T'l'oqwxwat, known (in English) as Avatar Grove. It's an old-growth forest that was saved from logging in 2009. Click here to read the story of how Avatar Grove came to be protected by the Ancient Forest Alliance. And if you love old forests, consider contributing to the cause.

At 8:30 a.m., about 35 people from the Duncan area boarded Lisa's school bus for what felt like a long drive toward Port Renfrew, and a bit further up a very bumpy logging road to the Grove. There were a half dozen vehicles parked on the edge of the road near a small sign that offers very little indication of the wonders above and below it.

After we hiked up a fairly well-made path to "Canada's Gnarliest Tree," we gathered to hear two Cowichan leaders, Fred and Rob, speak about the forest and its abundant healing properties. They sang and drummed for us, talked about the medicines found in old-growth forests, and about how their ancestors spent 40 years cutting and hollowing out thousand-year-old trees to build sea-going canoes that took them all the way to Malibu in California.

Fred played his Salish wind instrument so beautifully that tears rolled unbidden down my cheeks. I sat against a several hundred-year-old tree, set my camera to record and laid it in my lap so that I could just listen, breathe, pray, and watch the gorgeous movement overhead.

One of our leaders noted that in Japan, people pay small fortunes to go on corporate retreats to "breathe with the trees." I will never forget doing just that in Avatar Grove, spending three hours appreciating Mother Earth's goodness and beauty, and "all our (non-human) relations."

Avatar Grove is a sacred place to the Cowichan peoples -- as all old-growth forests should be for all of us. Our leaders invited us to offer prayers there, to lay down our burdens at the feet of the trees, to settle against them and asbsorb their goodness and the pure air they offer. I can't begin to describe amazing presence there.

Old-growth forests are incredible places that speak about the cycles of life -- if only we listen. Every ancient tree has five or six ecosystems, maybe more, stretching from beneath its roots all the way to its crown, and the forest itself witnesses to the tenacity of life from beginning to end. I was amazed at the soil made of decomposing cedar, fir and hemlock, how new and older trees grew out of fallen or broken trunks, and how some trees were hosts to more species of flora and fauna than I could even imagine, including white and magenta trillium.

Here are some pictures that can't possibly do justice to the spirit of the place. As another participant noted, it's kind of comforting to know that technology can't begin to see the way human beings see and experience things...

If you're ever out Port Renfrew way and can make your way up a bumpy forestry road to T'l'oqwxwat/Avatar Grove, it's definitely worth the trip. There's nothing like sitting on the knee of a six-hundred-year-old Douglas Fir and breathing with her. Especially on Mother's Day weekend. I'm so blessed...

Deepest gratitude to Lisa, Rob, and Fred.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Thank you, Jean

I find myself quite teary this morning with the news of Jean Vanier's death. Regular followers of these moodlings know that, though I met him only once, he is a major influence in my life, a big man who had a huge heart for people with and without disabilities. So much so that he started L'Arche over 50 years ago in order to bring people with intellectual disabilities out of institutions and into our hearts and lives.

I was a bit surprised this morning when I noticed that I already have 42 moodlings mentioning or quoting Jean, but then again, I wasn't, because his words have always resonated deeply within me. Jean Vanier knew that people with disabilities have so much to teach us about being human, about what is truly important in life. He wrote dozens of books about how to live a meaningful life, all of which encourage us toward acceptance of those who are different from us, forgiveness, unity and welcome. And in our present days, with so much division and difficulty in our world, those things need to come to the fore more than ever.

I leave you with the man's last video message to the world, made for the occasion of his 90th birthday, with his ten rules for life:

1. Accept the reality of your body.
2. Talk about your emotions and difficulties.
3. Don't be afraid to not be successful.
4. In relationship, take the time to ask, "How are you?"
5. Stop looking at your phone. Be present!
6. Ask people, "What is your story?"
7. Be aware of your own story.
8. Stop prejudice: meet people who are different from you.
9. Listen to your deepest desire and follow it.
10. Remember that you will die one day.

Remember, dear readers, that, as Jean says, "You are beautiful as you are."

Thank you for being a fellow passenger on this train we call life. Rest in peace, dear Jean.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Time for a rerun

What with Easter and all, life was busy, and I missed marking Earth Day in these moodlings of mine. I usually like to post something to remind us all to be gentle with our planet. Today I'm working on a little presentation I'll be giving to the 2019 class of Master Composter Recyclers, and I had another listen to the little video a bunch of MCRs and friends put together. Here it is, a little rerun to remind us to live more lightly on our planet.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Easter Alleluias

Today's reflection is brought to you by
Revelation 1: 17b - 19.

You touch us with your healing hands
and say,
"Do not be afraid."

You are the first
and the last.

You live in us and in all that you have made.

Your death and resurrection
show us
that we
and all of creation
will die
and rise again.

You are alive forever,
and you hold the keys
to our existence.

Show us the way
to the fullness of life
that you have promised.

Help us to work with you
toward a world of resurrections!

+Alleluia, Amen.

* * * * * * *

This is the season when we remember that we are Easter People -- that all the evil and darkness in our broken and messed up world can not overcome light and love.

The anointed one known as Christ helps us to realize that we are all children of God, and as such, we are loved beyond all telling. Even so, we are far from perfect, and our planet is suffering from our particular faults -- greed being one of the main. With 7.7 billion of us inhabiting our Mother Earth, the importance of remedying our greed is critically important -- or life will become unsustainable.

None of this is news -- we have known for a very long time about the poverty, pollution, deforestation, war, global climate change and other destructive problems created by the human race. The difference now is that we are reaching the tipping point. Recent floods, storms and fires constantly in the news are making this abundantly clear.

Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home is Pope Francis' letter to the world, his insistence and encouragement to make necessary changes in the way we are living. Combining it with the example of a Good Friday that has never been completely forgotten, we know that resurrection is possible, and that the light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness has not overcome it. So as bleak as our environmental outlook is for the moment, there is hope. Especially if the Easter People of Mother Earth speak up for her every chance that we get.

So here's what we do: we take every opportunity presented to us to make choices that help our planet, and remind others to do the same. We talk to our priests and pastors about our sister, Mother Earth, and our concerns for her. We ask them to share the ideas of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home from their pulpits (especially Chapter 5). We continue to lobby our elected officials to keep creation and all our family members affected by climate change at the forefront of their minds as they govern. We think, act, and pray for positive changes in the way resources are shared and managed around the globe.

And we continue to sing our Alleluias until things improve...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

My antidote for a post-election hangover

My post-election hangover isn't because of alcohol -- it's from concern about what our future premier might do to social services, education, LGBTQ2S+ rights, and our already struggling environment. His arrival at his election speech in his big blue Dodge Ram pickup truck was a symbolic gesture, I know, but it only demonstrates how tone-deaf he is to the serious issues of climate change and poverty. His emphasis on the economy might not leave a lot of room for the needs of marginalized community members and the environment, so the best antidote is to be vigilant and active in standing up for and with them.

If you're feeling the kind of concern that I am, prayer is always a helpful tool to keep us grounded. And this Easter weekend, there are plenty of opportunities. As usual for this time of year, I'll just highlight my two favourites on Good Friday.

The Outdoor Way of the Cross begins at 10 am at Immigration Hall (10534 100 St), and is a beautiful reflection on many of the most important issues humanity faces. It lasts approximately two hours, and takes participants on a 2 km route through the inner city before ending at Hope Mission for lunch.

And Friday evening at 7 pm in the beautiful Providence Renewal Centre main chapel (3005 119 St) is Ecumenical Prayer Around the Cross, with scripture, silence and song from the Taizé community. Why not bring your friends and neighbours of different denominations to pray with us for peace, unity and reconciliation, the very things that Jesus came to share with us? All are welcome at both events, and they offer just the right balance to all the politics of the past weeks, in my humble opinion. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: God is God, and I am not

Today's reflection is brought to you by
Philippians 2: 6-11.

You ARE God.

But you don't use your status to your advantage.

Instead, you use it for ours.

You empty yourself,
lower yourself (as servants do),
becoming one of us.

And then you die on the cross
to show us that all our deaths
lead to resurrections.

To show us what love is really all about.

And so we exalt you,
Name Above All Names.

All creation bend our knees to you
and our many voices sing your praises.

You ARE God.

Thank you for everything.


* * * * * * *

I spent this week looking at paragraphs 65-69 of Laudato Si, which can be accessed by clicking here. It reminded me that as a member of the human race, I am beloved by God, as is pointed out in paragraph 65: "Saint John Paul II stated that the special love of the Creator for each human being "confers upon him or her an infinite dignity".... How wonderful is the certainty that each human life is not adrift in the midst of hopeless chaos, in a world ruled by pure chance or endlessly recurring cycles!"

However, the encyclical's assertion that we are all conceived in the heart of God needs to be applied to all of God's creation all the time (even when it's not particularly convenient for human beings). I would argue that the chickadee outside my window is also the result of a thought of God and should be accorded dignity on that basis as much as I am. Therefore, using pesticides to control bugs that the chickadee likes to eat is a sin, right? And not just because that pesticide might travel through the food chain to us human beings...

Our broken relationships with God, our neighbours and the earth are the focus of paragraph 66. Sin is the disruption of those relationships, the disintegration of harmony, the disruption of the web of life. After Jesus, Saint Francis was one of the first to notice the lack of harmony and try to make up for it, and I sometimes wonder if his sermons to the animals weren't one big apology on behalf of the human race, with a reminder that God loves all creatures better than human beings seem to.

In addition to reminding us that "We are not God," paragraph 67 also says, "Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God's image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures." It goes on to explain that Scripture exhorts us to care for, protect, oversee and preserve our earth and its fruitfulness for those who follow after us. It also reminds us that the earth belongs to God and our claims to ownership of anything really aren't valid, though we seem to forget that on a regular basis. Can you name any of your so-called possessions that aren't actually a gift from God, directly or indirectly?

We "must respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world" (paragraph 68), and take special care not to take advantage of the creatures with which we share creation. Here's where the Wisdom of the Biblical accounts comes into play, noting scripture passages that underline the importance of humane treatment of all God's creatures. This section is most concerned that we see that "the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures."

"By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws," says paragraph 69. Wise elders among our First Nations brothers and sisters have been closer to the truth in their respect for nature, and we have so much to learn from those who seldom lost sight of the fact that "[Humans] must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things" (paragraph 69). This phrase comes from the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is also a tenet of original First Nations culture, one that our North American consumer cultures have conveniently forgotten in our pursuit of material goods. 

Ah, here's the whole point: what does it look like to "avoid any disordered use of things" in my life? 

Well... if I didn't wear earrings or other unnecessary ornaments, animals might have healthier habitats that are less polluted by mines. I suspect that I eat and use products made from animals that are raised in inhumane conditions when I could get ethical products by dealing directly with small-scale producers if I do a little research and go further than my local grocery chain or big box store for the most convenient items. And when I waste electricity or other forms of energy, I'm contributing to unnecessary fossil fuel emissions that change environments and habitats for creatures all over the world. 

As always, it's a matter of awareness, of recognizing that every consumer choice we make matters in one way or another, and choosing the best option every time. Do we really have to put herbicide on the coming crop of dandelions? Or can we allow them to be early food for our bee populations? All we need to do is wake up to better ways.

Here's a nice little video to help increase awareness...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Springtime near the Rockies

Things could get quite interesting for my husband after the provincial election on April 16th, so we decided to get away for a little break beforehand. Lee booked us a weekend for two at the Prairie Creek Inn, and we enjoyed the peace and quiet out near the Rockies.

One of the "Charming Inns of Alberta," the Prairie Creek Inn.

Of course, we're adventurers too, so we drove the local forestry trunk roads, looking for wildlife and other points of interest. And we definitely weren't disappointed.

Mamma moose and her teenager...

making sure we behave.

White-tailed deer -- their tails were like flags bouncing across the meadow.

Pussy willows just starting to pop.

The road down to this bridge was white-knuckle driving for the ice!

See the frozen falls?

But these were nothing compared to Ram Falls. 
Just the walk down amazed me -- God bless the welders
who put up the railings!

A pretty sheer drop on either side, and it was windy!

The North Saskatchewan is a pretty colour closer to its source.

Everywhere we went, it was quiet, except for birdsong, 
squirrels, and the wind in the trees.
Nothing but silence when I woke in the middle of the night.
It was exactly what my soul needs now and then.

We were so blessed to be able to enjoy springtime near the Rockies in this year of Blessing.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday reflection: Participating in a new thing

Today's reflection is brought to you by
Isaiah 43:16-21.

who have saved your people
time and time again,
you tell us,
"Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?"

You make a way where there was none before
and provide for our needs before we even know them ourselves.

All that you have made will honour you,
for you care for us whom you formed for yourself.

May we care for your creation
so that every creature can live in peace and justice
and declare your praise to the ends of the universe.


* * * * * * *

Did you hear Monday's news about Canada's Changing Climate Report, put out by scientists with Environment and Climate Change Canada? The news that, on average, Canada is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world filled me with a deepening sense of doom, and the feeling that I need to do more to reduce my impact on the planet. If we think last year was bad with its storms, droughts, fires and floods, how much worse will it get? I don't like to dwell on it, and the only way to handle those dark feelings is for me to push more positive ways.

The more modern reading of this week's reading from Isaiah above reminds me that our global climate crises all stem from the fact that human beings have forgotten how to appreciate and be thankful for the many, many blessings we receive from God, who created our sister, Mother Earth. Unfortunately, in our forgetfulness, rather than cooperate with God and find new ways to live more sustainably, too many of us imagine that we are entitled to more than our earth can logically provide to each person on the planet. Most of our earth's ills can be traced back to greed.

This week's reading of paragraphs 60-64 of Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home (click here to access it) is a wrap up of Chapter One, What is Happening to Our Common Home, and a brief introduction to Chapter Two, The Gospel of Creation (how I like that idea -- creation as good news).

Paragraph 60 points out two extremes of opinions regarding how to deal with the ecological problems our earth is facing, one being the myth that progress and technology will solve all our problems, and the other the idea that human presence, impact and intervention on earth needs to end. Of course, the real answer lies somewhere in between. The trick to living well is always finding the right balance, the place of sufficiency rather than too much or too little.

Now that we've made it through Chapter One, we've seen the many ways that "our common home is falling into serious disrepair" (paragraph 61). Looking at all these ecological and social problems, Pope Francis explains that we need to be a faith community that understands the importance of hope in finding the way out, redirecting our steps, and solving our problems before we reach the breaking point. If I'm reading the world correctly, more and more of us are attempting to simplify our lifestyles in an attempt to slow "the rapid pace of change and degradation" simply because the breaking point is a scary place to live! And we're inviting others to join us in our efforts, which is a really good thing.

In paragraph 62, the idea that "science and religion can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both" is mentioned. Science's logical approach combined with religion's faith-based hope have more of an opportunity to 'make things right' than either could alone. It's kind of like my own relationship with my husband. He's the engineer, the scientist, the logician who works with his head, and I am the gardener, the artist, the facilitator dealing in heart practicalities. Together, we're an excellent team, if I do say so myself, because we bring different gifts and talents to bear on our marriage's challenges. Likewise, science and religion can find balanced solutions to earth's problems by working together, science's thought processes with religion's belief in beauty, goodness and truth.

Pope Francis is insistent when he says that we need more than one way of looking at the complexities of our ecological crises -- "no branch of sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. The Catholic Church is open to dialogue with philosophical thought; this has enabled her to produce various syntheses between faith and reason. The development of the Church's social teaching represents such a synthesis with regard to social issues; this teaching is called to be enriched by taking up new challenges" (paragraph 63).

If you haven't read about Church social teachings, click here for a wonderful explanatory webpage from Development and Peace. Why not take a few moments to check them out? They have so much to say about how our world should and could work. I can't help but feel that if we applied them not only to human life, but to all of creation, our world would be in much better shape.

Laudato Si reminds us that faith convictions can offer Christians and other believers "ample motivation to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of [our] brothers and sisters" (paragraph 64). In his message for the 1990 Day of World Peace, St. Pope John Paul II spoke of how Christians "realize that [our] responsibility within creation, and [our] duty toward nature and the Creator are an essential part of [our] faith." When our faith moves us to act responsibly, there is always hope.

And when we remember that all of creation is a gift into which we have been born, there is always gratitude, which prevents us from taking things for granted. If we hold onto gratitude, we're more likely to use our blessings wisely. And we're more likely to participate with God in bringing about the new things with which God wants to gift us.

I know I've posted the song below more than once, but to me, it's a gorgeous reminder of our many blessings, showing so many reasons to continue on in hope and gratitude.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Scratching the gardening itch...

I'm a pretty happy woman these days because of many things growing all around me. Call it garden gratitude.

One day back in February, when it was miserably cold, I just couldn't take it any more. I shovelled my way to the greenhouse door, chipped away enough ice that I could actually get it open, and hauled in a frozen bag of potting soil that we purchased last fall. While it took two days to thaw, My wonderful husband set up some grow lights in our dining room (yes, that's the pink glow when you walk past our house in the evenings, and no, we're not growing cannabis!) and I've been watching seedlings sprout every since.

Some seeds I probably should have started earlier than I did (only planted my annuals last week) and some, I probably should have waited to plant (I can only imagine how leggy some of my tomato plants will get before they can go outside), but it's all good. I've been enjoying scratching the gardening itch, at least a little. So if you need a bit of green in your day, here's a little visit with our present greenhouse inhabitants. Once the annuals are up, they'll go out there, too.

A fairly happy bunch

Volunteer pansies from last fall's pots that I transplanted into trays.

Onions and leeks that I wish I'd started a bit sooner.

Three happy pepper plants (germination rate wasn't great this year).

That wasn't the case with baby tomato plants --
I think every single seed has showed up.
If you want a tomato plant, let me know!

I'm hoping for a June tomato crop for our eldest daughter's wedding --
I've got a few new heirloom varieties, including one called "42 days."

I bought a bag of 9 dahlia bulbs at Costco for $14. 
Thus far, five are viable. Considering that single bulbs
cost $7 at Canadian Tire, I seem to be coming out ahead.

We've been enjoying a few simple salads, too. 
Next week I'm going to plant more lettuce in our cold frame --
can't quite get rid of that gardening itch
even with so much already growing!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: To make all things new

Today's reflection is brought to you by
2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

As your family members,
when we are
one in mind and heart
with you,
O God,
creation is renewed.

You only want us to reconcile ourselves to each other
and to you
through our oneness of mind and heart,
to take up a full-time ministry of being of
one mind and heart
in you.

You do not count our sins against us,
but only call us to unity and reconciliation
with all your creation.

You call us to be your emissaries,
to live
in reconciliation and unity
and to invite others to join us.

You became one of us
so that we might become one
with you and all that you have made.

Give us minds and hearts
to see the many places and ways
where our oneness with you
can become the oneness
to bless your world
with the newness
it so desperately needs.


* * * * * * *

In thinking about the new creation in Christ that we hear about in today's second reading, I look around at creation at present and wonder how we can make it new with God's help. Unity of heart and mind, seeing the world with the compassion with which God sees it is certainly a big part of that. It's heating up down here, and it's much harder to ignore the climate crisis when you don't have air conditioning, as is the case for most of our family members in the developing world.

Climate change is also HERE -- in our backyard. Remember how hard it was to breathe in Edmonton back in August thanks to all the summer forest fires? Our sister, Mother Earth, is crying out, trying to wake us up, but are we blowing off her disasters (including storms like the one in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe) as coincidences -- at our peril?

At the beginning of a section about Weak Responses -- paragraphs 53-59 of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (access it by clicking here) -- Pope Francis puts it plainly: "Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years." Our advancing technology won't be able to save us if we are lacking the caring culture needed to address the earth's issues, and the leadership to bring about change. Laudato Si is the Pope's small step to push humanity in the right direction, a call to wake up.

But will it be enough? We need a solid plan that the world's entire population will buy into, with international law to back it up. Otherwise, the strongest voices (of the economy and politicians looking to save their seats) win. Climate summits have been happening every year since 1995, but not one of them has brought about serious change. I am ashamed that my Canadian government has been one of the worst when it comes to reneging on its promises toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. I'm ashamed -- and angry -- and grieving.

Pope Francis points out that "the alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.... any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented" (paragraph 54).

It never ceases to frustrate me when people with economic interests in resources deride those who care about the environment, pointing out that without such-and-such a resource, life won't be so cozy or convenient. The thing is that many of us are only too aware of the inconveniences that come with protecting our planet, and are willing to put up with more hardship and hassles if it means future generations will have a planet worth inhabiting.

But if our environment continues to decline, none of our present sacrifices will matter. The fact that our family gave up one of our two cars has meant that sometimes we miss some events and activities, but life is not about convenience in most parts of the world! Most of our brothers and sisters on this planet don't have one vehicle, let alone two or more... Should we? I often wonder how we could live with no car at all. I'm sure it would be doable. But we'd all need to jump on that bandwagon to really make a difference at this stage in the game... and there's my terrible excuse.

Paragraph 55 looks at the fact that while some countries have made significant progress toward ecological sensitivity, overall "harmful habits of consumption" haven't changed. And Pope Francis and his team actually mention "the increasing use and power of air-conditioning" as an example. I'm sure you and I could list so many more. As the Pope notes at the end of the paragraph, "An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behaviour, which at times appears self-destructive." We are killing ourselves and creation by taking the good things God has given us for granted, wasting them and the earth in the process.

Paragraph 56 says that too many of us "deny doing anything wrong because distractions constantly dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is." Paragraph 57 is even less cheerful, raising the spectre of wars, nuclear and biological, once resources become scarce (I'll let you read that part for yourself) and concluding, "What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?"

But as various people in the Bible say over and over again, "be not afraid." Paragraph 58 reminds us that human beings have been able to reverse some of the negative planetary impacts we have had in the past, accomplishing small things that prove that "men and women are still capable of intervening positively. For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity, and care cannot help but well up within us, since we were made for love."

Image result for old and newThe last paragraph of this section (59) warns us against "the rise of a false or superficial ecology which bolsters complacency and a cheerful recklessness." It's not enough to buy all the 'green-washed' cleaning products off the store shelves or participate in Earth Hour once a year -- and forget about changing the rest of our lives.

The planet will probably continue as it is for some time, leaving us with the illusion that things are fine and our little actions are making a difference, but if we continue with our same old thinking "carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption... delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing [bad] will happen," nothing NEW happens. And it's the big changes that we need to make that will save us.

I had a conversation with my future son-in-law this week about the kind of future his kids (my grandkids) will see, and he reminded me that societies have undergone radical changes when necessary in the past. The Weak Responses section that I reread this week is calling us toward stronger action NOW -- for the sake of all of creation. Could we live with one less vehicle in our lives? Could we turn off the air conditioning and lower the thermostat in the winter? Shop less? Share more? Spend more personal effort instead of taking consumer culture's quick, cheap, and easy ways out?

What am I taking for granted that I can appreciate more -- or do without?

What sacrifices am I willing to make to save our planet?

And most importantly, how can we see our world with God's compassion and help to make all things new again?

Friday, March 29, 2019

Take Earth Hour deeper...

Image result for earth hour 2019

Just a wee reminder to my readers that tomorrow, March 30, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. is the 12th annual Earth Hour. Earth Hour has been a mostly symbolic action to reduce our impact on the planet by turning off the lights for an hour once a year.

But given all the climate change related disasters in the past year, it's time to go deeper with our climate action. It can be as simple as questioning our every use of electricity. Do I need to boil an entire kettle of water, or could I warm just as much as I need? How many lamps or lights do I need to use in order to accomplish my tasks at present? Does my computer (or other gadget) need to be plugged in 24/7, or could I put it on a timer? These are small considerations, but any way that we can reduce our energy use saves us greenhouse gases in the long run.

There are always ways to conserve energy. What will you do during Earth Hour? And beyond?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday reflection: Indifference or making a difference?

Today's reflection is brought to you by
Luke 13: 1-9.

We know,
O Lord,
that the people killed by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique,
are not worse sinners
than we are.

We know that those who died
in the floods of Malawi and Zimbabwe
are not worse offenders
than anyone else on our planet.

We shouldn't be indifferent to these events.

We are all your children,
just as they are.

None of us are perfect.

But all of us
are called
to change
our lives,
from excess
to simplicity,
to reduce our impact on our earth
so that our sisters and brothers
who live
where the effects of climate change are strongest
have half a chance.

So that we all have half a chance.

And all of us
are called
to change
our hearts,
to turn from fear and indifference
to loving action
so that our sisters and brothers
all over the globe
can live
in peace and sufficiency.

You are the Master Gardener.

You see our barren branches,
our sins and shortcomings,
and still you give us
another chance.

May your tender care
help us
to change our lives and hearts
so that we may also offer
your tender care
to those who need it most.


* * * * * * *

Cyclone Idai has been very much on my mind as I reread the sections on Global Inequality (paragraphs 48-52) for this week's reflection on Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (they can be accessed by clicking here.) As usual, they are packed with ideas worth noting and discussing.

When I began studying (and practicing) voluntary simplicity, the fact that a lifestyle like mine is lived by only the top 8-12% of the world's population hit me like a ton of bricks. You could say that I finally began to wake up to the way that my life was depleting the lives of those in the developing world. "Both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest," as the pastoral letter of the Bolivian Bishops quoted in paragraph 48 notes -- and the worst damage to the environment arises out of our throwaway consumerism which depletes and pollutes places far from our sight, often in the Global South.

What's even worse is that these effects "are insufficiently represented on global agendas" to the point that most of us go through our days without giving much thought to our brothers and sisters in developing countries (the other 88-92% of  world population) whose lives are negatively impacted by our consumer demands. Except maybe when we see news reports like the ones from Mozambique this week.

Paragraph 49 begins by stating that "there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded... one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought... or... treated merely as collateral damage." Our brothers and sisters in the developing world are paying for the "lifestyles of the rich and famous" -- and those like me -- with the resources of their already impoverished countries. In the meantime, climate change is causing cyclones like Idai, flooding here, droughts and fires there.

Pope Francis nails it when he says: "...we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor" (paragraph 49). Have you heard the cries of the poor this week on the news? I am happy to see that Caritas Internationalis has a page for donations to help those in Mozambique, and I suspect Development and Peace is working on something similar.

The Holy Father and his writing team also note that "attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life" (paragraph 50).

Paragraph 51 clearly lays out the biggest problem -- the fact that the Global North's appetite for the planet's resources is huge in comparison to the Global South's, but it's the South that is feeling the worst effects -- environmental devastation through pollution, climate change, and the North's habit of exporting waste to the South (I read several reports this week on North American plastic waste being dumped in Malaysia because there's just too much to recycle).

Paragraph 52 points out that "The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to the ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relationships and ownership which is structurally perverse." The rules are stacked against them. But Pope Francis wants us to change the rules, calling the northern rich to help pay ecological and social debt "by significantly limiting [our] consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programmes of sustainable development."

Probably the most important sentences in this entire section are the last two: "We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference."

Before radio, television and internet, we didn't know as much about our world or people in other countries. Are we now suffering "compassion fatigue," a numbness to the plight of people we should consider to be our brothers and sisters? Or have we simply adopted indifference as our modus operandi so that we don't have to change?

What would Jesus do? In today's Gospel, he reminds us that those who experience disasters are just like us. If he was giving today's homily, I suspect he would urge us to turn back to God, drop our indifference, and start making a difference.

How have you heard the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor this past week? How have you responded to those cries? What is one thing you did? What is one thing you could have done?

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Foggy morning walk

I was a bit grumpy when my hubby got up much too early for my liking this Saturday (read: sleep-in) morning -- but when I looked out the window and saw the fog, I was ready to go dog walking with my camera in short order. We decided to head to the Gold Bar/Rundle Park area of our city. Shadow was excited (as always) for a car ride, and had a lot of fun chasing his tail in the fog (not sure why -- he just did). He ended up with a hoar frosty face.

Here are a few pictures from our foggy morning walk. Misty mornings are magical to me -- as we passed the lamp post in the first picture below, I wondered if we might find our way into Narnia...