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.


* * * * * * *

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
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


* * * * * * *

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.

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;
and peace will reign
as the first things pass away.

You will make all things new.

Please, start with us.


* * * * * * *

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, 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.