Sunday, February 24, 2019

Laudato Si Sunday Reflection: Mercy and graciousness

This Sunday's reflection is brought to you by
Psalm 103.

O God,
are mercy and graciousness itself.

I bless you,
and count myself blessed.

You forgive,
and crown me
with your love and mercy,
and especially
when I don't deserve it.

You don't wag a finger in blame
but simply remove my sins
to the ends of the universe.

Your compassion is endless.

some of my sins
are coming home to roost.

My planet's ability to cope
with the waste and overuse of her resources
means our entire population
is touched
by the effects of pollution
and climate change
whether we realize it
or not.

O God,
help me to see our planet
as you see it.

Help me to balance my needs
with the needs of all creatures,
to put less stress
on my comfort and convenience
and more emphasis
on what creation needs.

Are orcas less important than pipelines
in your grand scheme?

Help me to choose what is right.

Bring me
and all of creation
into harmony
with your mercy and grace.


* * * * * * *

This Sunday's piece of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (paragraphs 22-26 -- you can access the entire document by clicking here) looks briefly at the way many of the world's industrial systems (that create things to satisfy our needs and wants) are linear rather than circular, going straight to the trash. For example, the Royal Statistical Society in the UK chose 90.5 percent as it's stat of the year for 2018. That 90.5 percent refers to the amount of plastic in the world that is NOT being recycled. And there are many other resources that end up in our landfills, making it clear that we still have a long way to go to counteract our throwaway culture just because we are suckers for cheapness and convenience. How many of the following have a place in your life? Consider the alternative:

paper towels -- replace with rags (raggedy towels/cotton t-shirts)
plastic straws -- skip them altogether, or use reusable
single use coffee cups -- travel mugs
disposable water bottles -- reusable water bottles
plastic bags -- cloth bags
disposable plates, cups and cutlery -- bring along the real thing from home (makes people think...)
coffee filters -- old fashioned methods of brewing coffee like percolators, or reusable filter systems, anything but Keurig!!
gift wrap -- reusable cloth, tea towels or pre-used gift bags (we always seem to have a few around), or give a gift without wrap at all!

Since I became a Master Composter/Recycler in 2007, we've managed to cut many of these things out of our lives through simple awareness. Wasteless living requires more thought and effort than buying the quick and easy solutions that marketers make available to consumers, but half the battle is just choosing options that aren't disposable! (And remembering to choose them consistently.)

And these small things are just the tip of the iceberg. Pope Francis points to the much bigger adjustments we need to make when he notes that "climate is a common good... a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life." His encyclical calls us to "recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat... the human causes" which aggravate climate change (paragraph 23).

Laudato Si may have signalled the start of Catholicism becoming more aware of what its members need to do to mitigate climate change, to circumvent the "vicious circle which aggravates the situation even more, affecting the availability of essential resources like drinking water, energy and agricultural production in warmer regions, and leading the the extinction of part of the planet's biodiversity" (paragraph 24). The Pope's concern for these things, and for migrants who must flee their homes because of environmental changes is really important -- and almost too gentle. We need more Greta Thunbergs to call us to act NOW...

She calls a spade a spade, refusing to simply give a pep talk, insisting that there is no hope without action.

So this week, let's act. Let's see how many times we can cut back on our creation of greenhouse gases by using alternate transportation (feet, bicycles, transit, carpool) and using less energy, period. Let's find ways to reuse things rather than waste them. Our sister, Mother Earth, and all her children (not just the human ones) are depending on us to change, to be signs of God's mercy and graciousness within creation.