Monday, August 19, 2019

Simple Suggestion #281... Have an almost wasteless wedding

Our eldest daughter's wedding took place at the end of June, and the celebration of her marriage to her chosen partner was a delight from start to finish. Not only did it completely reflect Landon and Christina and their love for each other, their families, and their friends, but it was pretty sustainable right down to the fine details.

So how did they pull it off? Keep in mind that they're very progressive young people who don't necessarily hold to the ways traditional weddings are celebrated. They did at least 10 different things that not all couples consider when it comes to having a simpler, more earth-friendly wedding.

When Christina proposed to Landon two years prior to the wedding, we knew immediately that it wasn't going to be a conventional wedding. She had 1) two simple silver rings fashioned by a silversmith friend that she used to propose, and they also doubled as their wedding rings. So on the wedding day, their little "ring bear" (complete with a bear-eared hat) delivered the same two rings into their hands to put on each others' fingers as a sign of their permanent commitment.

2) Their wedding invitations were all online (except for a few mailed to less computer-savvy folks who probably preferred paper copies). They put up a nice little website at theKnot.com so guests could read up on all the details of the day.

3) Christina said "No to the Dress" because she had a perfectly lovely one in her closet already. Who says a wedding dress has to be long and pure white? My mom  found a crinoline in her own closet and did a few alterations for her granddaughter. It turned out to be the perfect dress for our girl, a simple white cotton print with splashes of lilacs, peonies and roses. Christina didn't even buy wedding shoes, but went barefoot for most of the day and kept her Birkenstocks close at hand for longer, rougher distances. Her dress was the "old" (she's had it since Grade Twelve), a white wrap I crocheted for her was the "new," my own wedding earrings were the "borrowed," and she painted her toenails "blue."

The bride and her attendants, who were friends and siblings, all wore Baby's Breath in their hair, but that was the only matchy-matchy thing about them. 4) The wedding party were invited to wear their own comfortable clothing with pink, green or purple accents from their own wardrobes, things that they can also wear for other occasions. The groom picked out a sharp new suit that he will need in the future, and his attendants joined him on a little shopping trip to buy new ties that all worked well together. The only clothes specifically "made" for the wedding were the bride's crocheted wrap and two bow ties my mom made from fabric left over from the wedding dress alterations, a surprise worn by the bride's grandfather and great uncle. Seeing those two in their floral bow ties saved our emotional bacon as Christina and I giggled our way up the aisle! (I didn't cry until the vows. They were just beautiful!)

5) Bouquets came from local gardens -- mine, my sisters, and MCR friends'. A rural friend of Christina's had some late-blooming lilacs that we kept in my cold storage room for three days prior to the wedding (heavenly fragrance in there!), and one of the bride's attendants picked some wild grasses (from the nearest ravine) that found their way into every unique bouquet put together by florist friend, Annette. Because the bouquets would have wilted if left too long out of water, they were kept in vases to decorate the hall for the evening -- and our back doorstep for the gift opening the next day. A few days later, they found their way into my compost bin.

One of the things Landon and Christina insisted upon was that 6) no wedding decorations would be sent to the landfill after the wedding. Landon and his dad, Greg, built an outdoorsy wedding arch from birch harvested from the family acreage, and it was decorated with lengths of tulle salvaged from an event at the Stony Plain Library. It now sits over a bench at the family firepit.

There was enough tulle that we hung it across the front of the community league hall with some borrowed fairy lights to create a lovely ambiance for the evening. Landon's mom, Sandy, grew got to work re-purposing jam jars as herb planters that wedding guests could take home as gifts, and grew little pots of basil, oregano, thyme and parsley to go into them. They were set on cut "plates" of downed tree trunks also from the acreage, later to be used for firewood. Tiny fairy light strings borrowed from a friend were put into jam jars decorated with jute bows and used in the place of candles on the tables, and tiny (compostable) pine cones gathered by someone on the decorating committee were strategically placed on the tables to add a little more outdoor elegance.

7) There were no stretch limos or parades of wedding cars emitting fossil fuels. The wedding was a twenty minute walk from the bride's home, and photos were taken on the hills near the Cloverdale Community League hall, where the banquet was held (it takes its electricity from solar panels). Driving was pretty much kept to a minimum, though the parents of the groom and some guests had further distances to travel.

8) The weekend's meals were almost wasteless. For the rehearsal party and day after the wedding, I borrowed MCR Suzanne Dennis' party boxes. Su had enough colourful plates, cloth napkins, cutlery, and other useful items that we didn't have to use a single paper plate or serviette, just washed it all up and used it again. For the wedding banquet, Christina and Landon rented dinnerware and linens for 120 from Special Event Rentals, which doesn't expect everything to be washed before it's returned. Unfortunately, the plates came in packs of ten, wrapped in plastic shrink wrap, but that's minimal waste when you compare it to the amount of single use paper plates and plastic cups/cutlery that weren't thrown out in the end. We recycled pizza boxes and bottles, as should be the case. Leftover food was eaten by friends and family in the week after the wedding (we just finished eating the cookie bar cookies because Christina and Landon didn't want wedding cake), the unopened booze was returned to the liquor store, and some pop was passed on to Christina's cousin for his wedding two weeks later.

Landon and Christina's friend, Alexis Hillyard, (of Stump Kitchen -- check out her videos!!) catered 9) an amazing, lower carbon vegetarian meal of pancakes with both sweet and savoury toppings. Because Landon and Christina are vegetarians, they didn't want animals to be harmed in the making of their banquet. Some guests were a bit skeptical about a pancake supper for a wedding, but Alexis really pulled it off, and I'm thinking about trying some of her savoury recipes for myself. Who'd have thunk putting roasted mushrooms and onions, basil cream cheese, avocados, pineapple or pulled jack fruit on a pancake would taste so good? There were four different recipes to try (named after different aspects of the newlyweds' life together), and from all reports, each one was delicious. For the less adventurous, pancakes with fruits and syrups were also available.

Most fun of all was the evening's entertainment. After supper and speeches, the happy couple and various friends with whom they form several different bands got up to sing and dance with the crowd, playing 3-song live sets, interspersed with dance music. I will never forget Landon, Christina, and Landon's brother and best man, Matt, performing A Thousand Miles (Vanessa Carlton) with the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. We danced to music of all descriptions, and it's safe to say that a good time was had by all.

The thing about simple and sustainable living is that it's not exactly convenient. 10. The couple and their family and friends worked pretty hard to make the wedding celebration a sustainable one that we'll never forget, and because "many hands make light work," it came off with hardly a hitch. There's something extra special about pulling together as we did for two people who are so special to us -- a real sense of community formed at the event. Resources were conserved rather than wasted, the weather co-operated (the sun even came out as the couple shared the heart-felt vows they had written themselves), the ceremony was both delightful and beautiful, the supper was delicious, family and friends had a wonderful time together, and our newlyweds have plenty of memories to cherish from their special day. And me, I was simply awash in mother-love for both of them!

Christina and Landon celebrated their marriage in their own inimitable way, without stressing their bank accounts or their planet. Of their creativity, sense of fun, and desire to do things as simply and sustain-ably as a wedding for 120 can be, we are prouder than parents have any right to be. And we don't doubt for a minute that, in working together to create such a beautiful day, they proved themselves capable of facing the logistical and emotional challenges that marriage brings, too. With friends and family to back them up, we're sure their life together will be made of love, wonder, sustainability, goodness, joy and beauty! We're so proud of you both; God bless your life together!

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Christ's fire in our hearts



This week's reflection is brought to you by
Luke 12:49-53.

You came to bring fire to the earth,
O Christ,
but not the fires blazing due to climate change.

Your fire
is the fire that should burn
in each of us --
fire for justice and peace,
fire for community and harmony,
fire for equality and goodness,
beauty and truth.

But we are divided
by our desires
and what you want for us.

Help us to see
love
as the source of all goodness
and to put it,
not possessions,
as the center of our lives.

Let your true fire
burn within us.

+Amen.

* * * * * * *

This week's piece of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, fits quite well with Sunday's gospel reading in that it focuses on Chapter 2, section 7, The Gaze of Jesus (you can access the entire document by clicking here). Paragraphs 96-100 have me thinking about what it would be like to see our present world through Jesus' eyes. What would our world be like if the fire of  Jesus' love, the fire that burns through all the clutter in our society and in our hearts and souls, was our guiding force?

I like this section of the encyclical, because it reminds me that if Jesus and I were to go for a walk, he'd be as happy as I am to walk down to the river and just watch the ducks for a while. He might like spreading soil amendment from my compost pile, and eating garden vegetable soup at our dinner table. But what would he think of all our computer gadgets? The noise of traffic? How my husband is stressing about impending job cuts under our new Premier?

Paragraph 96 says that Jesus was always reminding his disciples of the intimate relationship between God and God's creatures. In the scriptures he often reminds us about how God clothes the lilies in splendor, notices every sparrow -- and counts every hair on our heads.

Jesus also "often stopped to contemplate the beauty sown by his Father, and invited his disciples to perceive a divine message in things," says paragraph 97, to the point of using creation in his teachings and parables and thus indicating that he was a nature-lover who was deeply aware of and in love with the great Lover who had created everything around him.

In paragraph 98, Pope Francis and his letter-writing team note that "Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed" -- the others, of course, being those who witnessed him walking on water, calming the storms, and enjoying the fruits of the earth. Jesus wasn't someone who "despised the body, matter and all the things of the world" -- he noticed and appreciated life in a holistic way. And yet, there are long periods in Christianity where so-called spiritual ideals were elevated so far above ordinary moments of daily life -- like birth, death, sleep, sex, food, drink and work -- that "unhealthy dualisms... disfigured the Gospel."

The end of paragraph 98 notes that Jesus was a carpenter who spent a lot of his life as a labourer, endowing work with a holiness of its own. He didn't let big theological ideas unbalance his love for life as a whole even though he was God. He was able to see the big picture, and the way he lived gave extra dignity to our human existence and its day-to-day work and play.

I like the idea of Jesus
being part of the Green movement.
No idea where this photo-shopped pic
originated, but kudos to the person
who created it!
The fact that Jesus came to live in the middle of creation gives everything a sacredness: "One person of the Trinity entered into the created cosmos, throwing his lot with it, even to the cross... Christ is at work in a hidden manner in the natural world as a whole, without thereby impinging on its autonomy" (paragraph 99). The fact that God entered creation as a human being is a sign of how loved and valued we and the rest of creation are. God didn't create the universe and leave us on our own, but joins in the life we live and knows firsthand what creation is all about. Jesus saw -- and continues to see -- the world through eyes like ours.

The section concludes with paragraph 100, which says "the risen One is mysteriously holding [the creatures of this world] to himself and directing them toward fullness as their end." But what does an earth living out of this kind of fullness look like? How does Jesus see it? The old question, "What Would Jesus Do?" applies not only to our relationships with each other, but also to how we treat our earth and live our lives.

So here's an exercise for the week ahead. Let's imagine that Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and son of God, moves in next door. What kind of house does he build for himself? How big is his moving van? What are his yard and garden like? Who are his friends? How does he entertain them? What does he buy at the grocery store? How does he travel around? What are the key issues affecting his vote in our next election? What does he wear? How does he spend the bulk of his time? How does he care for our earth?

And then we can imagine our lives changing to match his... and we can continue to live with his fire burning in our hearts, for all of creation's sake.

Friday, August 16, 2019

An incredible short film

Guillaume Néry and his wife, Julie Gautier, recently released an amazing film of Guillaume freediving (holding his breath for up to seven minutes and moving around in fantastic ways with no diving gear) that has just blown my mind. I share it here because it is so beautiful, and because I didn't know that sperm whales sleep vertically. If you're interested in learning more about the couple and this magnum opus of theirs, click here. Their film is gorgeous, and worth a look. Enjoy! (And don't forget to breathe!)

https://youtu.be/OnvQggy3Ezw

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Faith-ing it until we make it

This week's reflection is brought to you by
Hebrews 11:1.

O God,
your servant,
Paul,
tells us that
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, 
the conviction of things not seen.

I struggle to hope and to believe.

Not in you,
O God,
but in the human beings
that think they are in charge
of various parts of your planet.

My faith that you are there
in spite of this mess
that we have made of your creation
is unshakable.

But my faith
that we can turn things around
before it's too late
is very shaky.

Please,
God,
please!

Help us human beings to wake up
and realize
that care for creation
is top priority
in this time of fires,
floods,
dying species,
unbearable heat
and ever more violent storms.

Help us to change our ways,
to rise and call for change,
until world leaders have no choice but to listen.

Help us to become change
for the sake of all of your creation.

Our faith,
our hope,
and our conviction
lie in you.
We need to trust
our climate scientists
and to work together.

Help us to faith-it --
to put our faith in you and those who understand
the kinds of changes we must make --
until we make it --
to the kind of world
you want us to live in.

Please,
God,
please!

+Amen.

* * * * * * *

This week, I've been feeling quite anxious about the state of our planet. Our odd-weather summer --and all the climate emergency news stories that the media is finally reporting -- have me worried that we're running out of time. It's getting harder to have faith that our human race will be able to tone down our consumption of fossil fuels and planetary resources in time to prevent our climate issues from doing us in.
Photo by Alex Andrews from Pexels
But then our local mayor talks about the changes our city plans to make, and calls dealing with climate change our "moon-shot" moment. Don Iveson was comparing our present challenges to the race to the moon, and reminding us how North Americans threw everything they had into putting Neil Armstrong onto the moon on July 20, 1969. Don was telling us that if we put everything we have into reducing fossil fuel emissions and preventing further planetary warming, we can mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

But we have to act now. And Don Iveson already has, making Edmonton one of the world's cities that has signed on to trying to reduce our collective emissions to align with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recommendations. "While nations plan, cities take action," he said, when he made Edmonton a C40 city back in March of 2018.

Where does faith-ing it come into all this? I suspect we need to put some of our faith in God's goodness, and the rest of our faith into listening to what evidence-based science and leaders like our mayor are telling us so that we can make the necessary changes to save our earth from further damage.

This week's paragraphs (91-95) in Pope Francis' encyclical letter to the world, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, carry some pretty sharp words. (see for yourself by clicking here). We finish the section on A Universal Communion and begin the one on The Common Destination of Goods, and guess what? Our North American lifestyle is a clear sign that things aren't shared very well around the globe.

If human beings really believed that care for each other and care for creation are inextricably linked, would our world be in its present state of pollution and climate-related issues? Paragraph 91 notes that "It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted." Once again we hear the chorus [for the third time], "Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society."

Our sense of community and universal communion can exclude "nothing and no one" says Paragraph 92, because "our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings.... We can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if we disregard any aspect of reality.... Everything is related" [that chorus again, fourth time].

And yet, we are always disregarding aspects of our reality. For example, and this is just one of many, how often do we think about how or where our clothing is made? Are the people who make our apparel being treated fairly? Are the processes involved compatible with a healthy environment? It takes research to find out those kinds of details, and most of us simply don't have the ability to interrogate the CEOs in charge, or the time to look into the business practices related to everything we wear. But here's a thought -- buying our wardrobe second hand, or wearing hand-me-downs is actually recycling and opting out of the consumerism that insists upon the latest style and the most recent market-created trend...

I feel as if I'm always singing the same song from this encyclical, and not just because the everything-is-connected chorus is playing over and over again. Awareness of where we can improve the planet's health by using fewer resources eventually makes all these suggestions I'm offering rather obvious. At least, they're obvious to me. Are they obvious to you?

Unfortunately, awareness can be a dangerous thing. It means we have to change!

Paragraph 93 says that "every ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged." Here I would carry our social perspective even further than that yet again -- because it's not only human beings who are poor and underprivileged in this world -- we regularly impoverish other species as well by our lack of consideration. Saint John Paul II said that "God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone." But I think God went even further than that -- the earth isn't just for the human race! It's for all living beings. I can't disagree, though, when he says that "it is not in accord with God's plan that this gift be used in such a way that its benefits favour only a few." (See footnotes to this section).

Unfortunately, it's too true that 1% of the world's population possesses more than half of its wealth, and that many of us in the cities of the western world have more than our share of the planet's goods. Paragraph 94 reminds us that "The rich and the poor have equal dignity," and quotes the Bishops of Paraguay regarding the rights of every campesino to "a reasonable allotment of land where he can establish his home, work for subsistence of his family and a secure life... [with equal access to] education, credit, insurance and markets."

Do any of us really have need for more than these kinds of basics: food, water, shelter, clothing, right livelihood, education and community? Paragraph 95 tells us that nature is a collective good which belongs to and is the responsibility of everyone. If we are honest, we don't actually 'own' anything. So really, those things we consider to be possessions are things we just administer "for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others." The last sentence of the paragraph is the real zinger: "the Bishops of New Zealand asked what the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" means when "twenty percent of the world's population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive."

I'm guessing that you and I are in that twenty percent. I know that if everyone lived as North Americans do, we would probably need another five planets like earth to support our lifestyles! Which tells me that I need to tone it down! But how is the way we live killing people in the developing world -- or in the future?

It's not like we're doing it directly. It's the little things that we often aren't aware of that are the problem. Wasting or being careless with what we have. Buying more than we need. Thoughtlessly adding to global climate change by unnecessary use of fossil fuels. Eating too high on the food chain (did you hear what the ICPP scientists said about eating meat this week?). Taking what we have for granted. Feeling entitled to more than our share because we've worked hard for our money. Going overboard to keep up with the Joneses.

The better way? Appreciating everything. Owning less. Travelling less. Eating simply. Sharing. Living in sufficiency instead of excess.

And participating in events and organizations that make us and the world more aware of how we can become more responsible for our planet, reducing climate change and other negative impacts created by over-consumption and unequal distribution of the world's common goods. The fact is that a lot of us have gotten used to living pretty "high on the hog." I'm suspecting that Laudato Si is Pope Francis' gentle way of telling us that we're going to have to tone it down several notches when it comes to our lifestyles in order to save the lives of those in the developing world and the generations to come, never mind our own lives!

We are not to despair... we are simply to have faith, to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly (by living more simply) with our God and each other.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: So many vanities



Today's reflection is brought to you by
Psalm 90.

You,
O God,
are our home,
our source and our final resting place.

We live short lives
and turn back into dust.

For you,
time goes on infinitely,
but our time is like
dreams that come and go.

Teach us to appreciate every moment
and give us wisdom to seek you at every turn in life.

Help us to remember that earthly things,
those found in shopping malls,
are not what a good life is made of.

Remind us that all that you have given us
is meant to be shared,
not hoarded.

Let your blessing flow through us to others
so that all may rejoice and be glad all our days,
so that your favour may rest upon all your creatures.

Then,
and only then,
can we relax,
eat, 
drink,
be merry
as you intend for your children.

Let us not wait for the heavenly banquet,
but celebrate your kin-dom soon!

+Amen

* * * * * * *

If there's anything that drives me crazy about Pope Francis' recent letter to the world, it's that it had to be written from the angle where we human beings with our theologically-approved ability to relate to God seem more important than the rest of God's creation, even though creation would probably manage better without us! As the writer of Ecclesiastes says this weekend, vanity of vanities... All is vanity! I suspect that God loves as if it's not just human beings who are special.

Halfway through section IV, which is called The Message of Each Creature in the Harmony of Creation, paragraph 86 notes that "God's goodness "could not be fittingly represented by any one creature. Hence we need to grasp the variety of things in their multiple relationships." Actually, the writers of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, are quoting different pieces of Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, which were written in the 13th century! (You can read this week's paragraphs, 86-90, including the footnotes about where to find Aquinas' ideas, by clicking here.) The Bible says that God created humans in His and Her image, yes, but Saint Thomas tells us definitively that God's image also exists in the rest of creation and we need to understand the importance of everything. How did we miss this? Perhaps our intellectual vanity has gotten in the way.

Another piece of vanity -- the idea that we all deserve our very own fill in the blank -- means that there are too many of the earth's resources being spent on duplication of our belongings. But what if we decided to try some interdependence, also known as sharing? We might have to depend on one another, build stronger community supports, create fewer emissions that lead to climate change, and maybe live a healthier life, but would that be so bad? Not according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which points out at the end of paragraph 86 that "Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other."

Sound like Utopia? Or maybe heaven on earth? It would be if human beings didn't see the world and our possessions as our rights rather than as gifts from God. This Anthropocene era in which human activity has had a major impact on our earth's ecosphere since the Industrial Revolution has seen an incredible increase in population and pollution, partly because we've gotten out of the habit of working together. The increasing suffering worldwide due to climate change-related weather events seems to be a catalyst for the beginning of a conversion in us, where we see the necessity of living more simply, co-operating with our neighbours, and respecting the sacredness of creation. I just hope we're not starting too late.

Paragraph 87 seems to be designed simply to allow for the reappearance of Saint Francis' Canticle of the Creatures to aid us in praising God. I just wish they had printed it in its entirety, including the part about Sister Death. I can't help but think that if we were all better friends with our mortality, we wouldn't spend so much of our lives accumulating the earthly treasure Jesus warned against, "that moth and rust consume and thieves break in and steal" (Matt 6.19). If we are constantly aware that Sister Death allows us to take no possessions with us, maybe we'd leave fewer behind! As a friend reminded me when we were talking about this Sunday's readings the other day, "I've never seen a hearse pulling a U-haul."

In paragraph 88, we are reminded that "The Spirit of life dwells in every living creature and calls us to enter into relationship" by cultivating the "ecological virtues" that are part of the social doctrine of the Church. Every creature in creation has its role to fulfill, and human beings in particular need to acknowledge our "right and proper place" instead of thinking ourselves the pinnacle of creation, or of creation as merely the fulfillment of our wants. Not the left, but the right, below.


I'd love to know where this graphic originated so I could give the artist credit, because it pretty much sums up my feelings about our relationship with the earth. Who says human beings are the highest level of creation? Human beings! But the true picture is on the right. We are not the top of the pyramid, though that's the image that consumer culture (and the beginning of the book of Genesis) may have imprinted upon us.
God (not us) owns everything, says paragraph 89, and
all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate respect... God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.
Paragraph 90 underlines the importance of the role of people in the care of creation, stating that
we should be concerned lest other living beings be treated irresponsibly. But we should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst, where we continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others. We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, would destroy the planet. In practice, we continue to tolerate that some consider themselves more human than others, as if they had been born with greater rights.
Enormous inequalities breed enormous anger and terrible division. My church pretends to be blind to the greater rights it gives to men over women, and how that only feeds the inequality of women around the globe, many of whom are left to feed families and care for the elderly without much support from the males who are seen as having greater value in so many cultures.

But again, it's all of a piece, and we'll never get to equality and heaven on earth if we ignore sexism... or any of the other "isms" that divide us from other beings in creation. All that God made must be valued and considered worthy of care... and it would be good if all living things were accorded similar rights, though it would require much more effort on our part to care for them all. At the moment, we only care for the things we value, and heaven knows we haven't always valued the right things!

For the week ahead, let's give some thought to the things we value and how they fit into the web of life that God created. If a fire was to come and swallow everything we own, what would we miss the most? What could we easily live without? How much do our "needs" impact our planet and its ecosystems? How much impact do our "wants" have on the earth?

Let's give some thought to the idea that the needs of creation are important too.

It's time to chuck human vanity. This life, this planet, is not just about us.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Seven weeks later, I'm back

And what an interesting seven weeks it has been. Lots of interesting things went on -- a few reunions, two moves, two weddings, plenty of dancing and singing, not quite enough camping, and plenty of blooming beauty in our garden. It's hard to know where to begin. I won't be covering it all in chronological order, so no worries about long "What I did on my Summer Vacation" posts. With the garden needing attention, I just don't have that kind of time. Short bytes only, I promise.

Today I'll start with this beautiful picture, taken by Lee while we were at our campfire near Long Lake, AB. He didn't hear a sound -- it was movement that caught his eye, as she was completely silent when she landed on the stump. She didn't stay long -- other small things on the ground were more interesting than we were!


I was laying on the bed in our tent trailer, all screens open, reading, when an intermittent screech eventually reached my book-absorbed consciousness. In the dusky light, it took me a minute to spot a young owl perched in the old pine tree beside our vehicle. So I grabbed the camera and went out to see if I could get a picture, or perhaps a video.

Turned out it was two young owls, perhaps offspring of the beauty we saw earlier. By the time I turned on my camera, the larger of the two had flown to a more distant tree, but the young one was curious, and stayed to check me out. The video below isn't great quality and it ends abruptly (darn mosquitoes!) but it gives you an idea of our evening visitors. 



For the remaining nights we were camped there, we heard the young ones in the darkness, calling to their mom, or to each other. It made me happy to know that they're living in such a beautiful and relatively unspoiled place.

Stay tuned for more stories from the past seven weeks.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Some food for thought

Nine days to our daughter's wedding, but this dropped into my inbox today, and I thought I'd share it since it's all about how one family chooses to live simply...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Co-gardeners with God

As I did my daily Tai chi in the back yard this morning, I marveled at beauty. Bees buzzing in flowers, robins singing on high, dew on the grass. I found myself thinking about how, in so many cultures of the world, the history of humanity begins in a garden, where humans and God connect.

And I couldn't help but think: if, as a species, we could somehow find our way back to our earth's continuous regeneration in nature, with fewer huge corporations of concrete and steel and smaller, more simple physical labour in harmony with creation, could we dial back climate change, pollution, and disease so that we could live in appreciation of the great beauties that surround us?

God, help us to return to your garden, somehow.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Come and join us!!

Here's a very quick moodling... to invite all my readers in the Edmonton area to join me in a whole lot of fun at the L'Arche Backyard Party. Hanging out with L'Arche is a guaranteed good time, and this year, a wonderful way to mark Summer Solstice. Details below. Hope to see you there!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Taking a break

Did I mention that our youngest, Jay, is moving to a new apartment any minute?

And that our eldest, Christina, is getting married at the end of June?

Plus, one of my sisters is having a big birthday; we're taking a dear friend on a tour of the Banff-Jasper Parkway and hosting her farewell party before she leaves the country; there's another wedding the following weekend; we'll be helping Lee's brother pack up for a move to Vancouver Island the day after that; and I still have tomato plants (in ever larger pots) that I should somehow get to my father-in-law in Lethbridge... plus the usual home upkeep, yard work, volunteering, baking, etc...

Needless to say, life will be extremely busy until the beginning of August at the latest, and then after that, it's produce season once again.

I could moodle here every day of the week because so much is going on when it comes to opportunities for simplicity, ideas about Laudato Si, garden beauty, and music. It's just there isn't enough time to get everything else done when I moodle.

So if you've stumbled across these moodlings and nothing seems to be happening, never fear... it's still an active blog, it's just that life is extraordinarily busy right now. I'll be back when you least expect it over the next month or two, and definitely by August. In the meantime, here's a picture of a new dahlia blooming in our back yard after tonight's downpour...


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Happy Environment Week!

Happy World Environment Day, in the middle of Environment Week. Here is something really beautiful. Let's do all we can to enjoy our forests and care for our environment...


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: How do we receive God's love letter?

This Sunday reflection is brought to you by
Ephesians 1:17-23.

God of glory,
you give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation.

You enlighten our hearts.

You show us
the hope to which you call us.

You bless us
with the abundance of glorious inheritance
our earth has to offer.

Your great power is visible
in the many resurrections of spring.

You can be seen
in all that you have made,
you rise above all human rule and authority and power and dominion
and every name that is or will ever be.

You are the fullness we seek.

Help us not to settle for less than your love
moving in us
and in our protection
of your world.

+Amen

* * * * * * *

This week's smoky skies had a lot of people musing about the apocalypse, but as I walked our pup with a smoke tickle in the back of my throat, I found myself moodling about this amazing world God has given us to inhabit, this love letter that we too often trample in the dust rather than keep carefully.

This isn't exactly the way I intended to start this reflection, but the wildfires displacing so many of our human family in Northern Alberta played heavily on my mind as I reflected on today's paragraphs (81-85) from Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Homewhich can be accessed by clicking here.

The question on my mind was, "How do we receive God's love letter more gratefully and carefully?"

Paragraph 81 looks at the fact that every human being on earth has developed or is developing into a unique creature with our own ways of being: "The sheer novelty involved in the emergence of a personal being within a material universe presupposes a direct action of God and a particular call to life and to relationship" not only with God, who addresses herself and himself to me, but also with creation. Each one of us is a subject who can never be reduced to the status of an object by virtue of those relationships.

"When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society." And not only society, but nature as a whole. Not only are people being forced to flee the fires, but many creatures' natural habitat is being lost due to human-caused climate change.

I'm so glad that the human idea that "might is right" is noted by Pope Francis and his encyclical team in paragraph 82. It's a fallacy that has led to immense inequality, injustice and violence against the majority of humanity, many other species, and our environment, since resources are exploited by the wealthiest, the most powerful, or the first on the scene. Of course, "Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, community and peace as proposed by Jesus," who told us not to use power over one another, but to serve each other (and, I believe he also intended that we serve all of creation).

The main gist of paragraph 83 doesn't surprise me: "All creatures are moving forward with us and through us to a common point of arrival, which is God" -- and we are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator, say the human encyclical writers. Of course, I want to argue with this assertion. Yes, all of creation is called back to God, but we human beings with our big egos are not only leading all creatures back to God -- we are also being led by them, if we allow it. I'm thinking that the ducks in the river at the bottom of the hill are as much a sign of God's action in creation as I am. Their community is just as important as mine, and their gentle way of being together inspires me as I pause and think about where I can be with my loved ones in a gentler way...

Paragraph 84 notes that "Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose." But where I beg to differ, Pope Francis, is in my assertion that each creature is as much an image of God as I am! God is not contained only in human beings -- "The entire universe speaks of God's love" and life. We human beings are putting God into a very small box when we forget that all creatures are part of God's image, just as we are.

Paragraph 85 notes that in creation, God has written a precious book, but going back to the beginning of this reflection, I prefer to think of it as a love letter. This idea of God as a lover writing a love letter first hit me as I was working on a novel in which one character says to another,
How many lovers have you had who could woo you with a gorgeous winter sunset like the one we had this evening? How many lovers could create a planet like the one I live on, and give it to me as a free gift? How many lovers could place entire diamond galaxies out in space just for us to marvel at with our dinky little telescopes? And how many lovers could create human love to show us the overarching love behind everything that is?
The Canadian bishops say, "From panoramic vistas to the tiniest living form, nature is a constant source of wonder and awe. It is also a continuing revelation of the divine." Everything God made holds a lesson for us -- "for the believer, to contemplate creation is to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice." And what is that message?

That we are loved.

In seeing the world's sacredness, created out of God's love, we also find our sacredness, and an encouragement to love creation as God loves it.

Where will you notice God's love letter for you in the week ahead? And what love letter will you give back to creation? Is there one small way you can reduce your fossil fuel emissions this week, to help decrease the incidence of future wildfires?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Doing our part

This week's reflection is brought to you by
Psalm 67.

Let all of creation praise you,
O God,
let all of creation praise you.

Human beings are too small
to sing your glory sufficiently.

I suspect that's why we have
birdsong,
ocean storms,
mountain meadows,
prairie skies
and everything else you have made.

Thank you
for being so gracious to us;
for letting your glory and goodness
surround us.

Anyone can see
your face
with the eyes of our souls --
your beauty, goodness and truth
can be found everywhere
that people remember to walk
in your love.

In those who become
your hands and feet
lies your way,
your saving power.

In spite of the challenges we face,
let us be glad and sing for joy.

You judge us fairly
and guide our ways.

You make all the spring beauty that surrounds us
and bless us beyond all measure.

Help us to cooperate with you,
with creation,
in creating more of your beauty, goodness and truth
for all those who cannot see it.

Awaken them to all that you have given,
so that we may all do our part
to care for your creation
together.

+Amen.

* * * * * * *


I've been moodling (musing and doodling) a fair bit this week about whether Pope Francis' encyclical is really going to help change the world. I've come to the conclusion that it won't -- unless we remember that we are a big part of God's action in the world, and that if we want the world to change, we have to change ourselves, too.

This week's piece of Laudato Si, is about The Mystery of the Universe (paragraphs 76-80, which can be accessed by clicking here). I'm thinking that there are too many mysteries to count when it comes to the universe and God's care for one particular planet and its inhabitants.

Paragraph 76 notes that "Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illuminated by the love which calls us together into universal communion."

In paragraph 77, the Pope and his writing team assert that the creation of the universe wasn't a random occurrence or "arbitrary omnipotence," but rather, was the result of God's choice to create out of love, and that everything created exists because of that love. For me, it's impossible to imagine that everything surrounding us in creation is the result of  randomness. It makes more sense that something, Someone, namely our Tender God, enfolds everything with love and holds it in balance so that it continues to exist. And it has become rather obvious that humans' upsetting of that balance is the reason that things are starting to fall apart.

Ancient pagan religions saw nature as divine, and I can't help but wonder if that wasn't closer to God's intent than the Judaeo-Christian thought that "demythologized nature" according to paragraph 78. Demythologizing nature might have been fine if human beings had taken responsibility for valuing and protecting it the way God does, but it seems our connection to both God and nature have never been quite strong enough to hold everything in balance the way God does. We are only human, and we have periods of doubting God -- or forgetting that we are not God! More recently, the influence of "the modern myth of unlimited material progress" has led too many of us to Mammon (greed) rather than toward the wise direction, development and limitation of our powers as intelligent creatures created by God.

In paragraph 79 we find that "In this universe... we can discern countless forms of relationship and participation....We are free to apply our intelligence towards things evolving positively, or towards adding new ills, new causes of suffering and real setbacks...." God has given us choice, over and over again. In his letter to the world, Pope Francis reminds everyone of our duty to care for nature and protect humanity from self-destruction.

Thanks be to God that He and She is reliable. Paragraph 80 reminds us that God can bring good out of the problems human beings have caused. I love the line from Pope John Paul II's Catechesis: "The Holy Spirit can be said to possess an infinite creativity... which knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, including the most complex and inscrutable." But we can't let moments of positivity lull us into a sense that God is going to fix everything without us lifting even a finger. Unfortunately, there are people on this earth who think that way, and they are part of the problem!

The Holy Spirit's infinite creativity resides in each one of us, and as Saint Teresa of Avila liked to say, we are all the hands and feet and heart of Christ. So now the question is, what are we going to do as part of God's action on this planet? How can we put the Spirit's creativity to work in ourselves, for our world?

It's becoming clear that we can't expect world leaders to make changes -- we need to push them, and to change our own lifestyles too. That means giving our communities and ourselves an energy audit. If we really want to prevent further climate change, we all need to become more aware of the places in our lives where we are creating needless carbon emissions, and reduce the size of our carbon footprint. Change begins with us.

75 years ago, hot water was pretty much considered a luxury, but now it's an expectation that creates a fair bit of waste if we really think about it. My parents talk about the "weekly bath" that was shared in their families. Our present culture likes our daily hot showers -- but since the last time I read this part of Laudato Si, I decided to only shower every second or third day to live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who don't have the option of a daily shower. I'm also trying to shower for less than 5 minutes, hoping to slow climate change for the sake of my children and (future) grandchildren.

And there are many other things to consider. Are we willing to give up idling our cars? Using automatic car starters? (I saw a vehicle idling this gorgeous, warm spring morning -- why???)  Are we willing to use public transportation if the option exists? Are we willing to buy local food instead of exotic items that have to be trucked halfway across the globe? Where else can we cut our energy use?

What are we willing to do? And what would you like to ask our world leaders to do? Why not write a politician a letter to encourage them to see the environment rather than the economy as our communal bottom line?

One thing's certain -- things have got to change. And we have the power to start things rolling, even just in our own lives!



Friday, May 24, 2019

Spring beauty

It's been two weeks since my last visit to Butchart Gardens with my best friend, and I was always going to post these pictures, but I've been MIG (missing in garden) since I got home. Two weeks ago, not much was happening in my own yard, but now my tulips are in full bloom, as you can see on the picture at the top of Simple Moodlings right now. Of course, I don't have the incredibly interesting varieties found in Butchart, and in Edmonton, we can't grow the kinds of rhododendrons you find in BC, so I'll post a few pictures from Butchart for you to enjoy, and enjoy the blossoms on my own pear tree in the meantime...
















Sunday, May 19, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Renewing our world

This Sunday reflection is brought to you by
Revelation 21:1-5a.

O God,
we await your new heaven and new earth.

You promise us newness.

But maybe the newness we await is already among us.

Your home is among us
and you already live with us.

But
we can't seem to remember that
for more than a few minutes at a time.

We forget that we can be
your comfort for the sorrowing,
your consolation for the distressed,
your compassion for the suffering.

If we walk with you
and live as you intend,
death and mourning will be no more,
crying will be no more,
pain will be no more;
joy,
love,
and peace will reign
as the first things pass away.

You will make all things new.

Please, start with us.

+Amen.

* * * * * * *

I've been thinking a lot about newness as I reflected on this week's segment of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. It mentions a few bible stories as we continue with The Wisdom of the Biblical Accounts, paragraphs 70-75 this time (they can be accessed by clicking here). As we grow into adulthood, we see that some stories in the Bible are much more than meets the eye because of their many layers of archetypal meaning.

We are reminded of the story of Cain and Abel in paragraph 70. In childhood, it was a story about giving God the best we have and looking after each other, but for Pope Francis and his writing team, it is a cautionary tale, illustrating that
Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbour, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered.
The story of Noah is mentioned as another cautionary tale, God's first effort to make all things new after human beings messed things up. Then we hear Laudato Si's main refrain for the second time: "These ancient stories, full of symbolism, bear witness to a conviction which today we share, that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others." What I really like in paragraph 71 is the line, "All it takes is one good person to restore hope!" Referring, of course, to Noah's willingness to stand out from the crowd to renew God's reign on earth.

Laudato Si then jumps to the Psalms in paragraph 72. They exhort us and all creatures to sing praise and adoration of the God who lives with and beside us. How often do we reflect on God's presence in the creatures who live with and beside us? They are surely part of the newness God is creating.

In paragraph 73 the "prophets invite us to find renewed strength in times of trial by contemplating the all-powerful God who created the universe.... the God who liberates and saves is the same God who created the universe, and these two divine ways of acting are intimately and inseparably connected." The encyclical team closes paragraph 73's musings about the prophets with a quote from Isaiah, who reminds us that God "gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless." Just what we need to hear after reading all of the earth's problems Pope Francis listed in Chapter one that might leave us feeling overwhelmed.

The Babylonian captivity, when the people of Israel were forced out of their homeland to live in exile for almost 70 years, is mentioned in paragraph 74 as an example of a time of trial and persecution that led to a deeper faith in God. God's "creative omnipotence was given pride of place in order to exhort the people to regain their hope in the midst of their wretched predicament," and the same thing happened in the early Christian era when the followers of Christ found themselves persecuted by the Roman Empire.

What's interesting to me is that all of these examples of the trials and struggles of believers throughout the Bible are held up as examples to us who face the trials and struggles that have come about because of the overuse of creation's resources through rampant consumerism and human greed. Clearly, we are in similar straits, a time when we can glean some encouragement from the way that our biblical ancestors came through trying times by trusting in God and doing what they could. If they could find their way to starting over again, surely we can cooperate with God in renewing our earth.

Paragraph 75 points out that "The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim of absolute dominion over the earth is to speak once more of a... [God] who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality."

But I'll return to the last lines of paragraph 74 for the last words in this Sunday's reflection: "The God who created the universe out of nothing can also intervene in this world and overcome every form of evil. Injustice is not invincible."

Injustice is not invincible! Especially if we see the wrongs around us, and to take a stand against them. Because injustices are ingrained in our culture, we may have to become counter-cultural, to appear a little crazy for a time in order to draw attention to the particular injustices to which our sleeping world has become immune.

I doubt we'll have to build an Ark to help God make all things new, but we might have to do something even harder in this day and age -- maybe to vote Green, to NOT to take flamboyant tropical vacations and to live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. To NOT buy the latest cool but unnecessary gadget or to NOT support a company that sells genetically modified foods. In other words, to BE A SIGN, a role model, and an example of doing the just thing -- even if it's only our families and friends who might notice what we're doing.

How will you Be the Change in the week ahead? For the rest of your days? We are all part of creating a new world of peace, joy, and love.

Injustice is not invincible!

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, probably 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...