For too long,
we have believed
more in ourselves
than really trusted in you.
And now we see
evidence of our own foolishness
everywhere we look.
In turning away from you
and the sacredness
of all that you have made,
we are turning parts of our planet
into salt lands
where we can no longer live.
to reverse what we have done.
Slow the desertification
of our spirits,
of our earth.
Set our hearts and minds
on your streams
of beauty, goodness, and truth
so that we see with your eyes --
and deserves our loving care.
Then all of your creation
will be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jer 17:8)
This week I've been looking back at paragraphs 17-21 of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, Chapter One: What is happening to our common home (the entire text can be accessed by clicking here). It's the beginning of a frank assessment of what's actually happening to our environment before getting into the theology and philosophy that could be helpful in determining how to prevent further damage to the only home we have.
Right off the bat in paragraph 18, Pope Francis and friends name "rapidification" as a factor contributing to the planet's problems. Basically, change is happening more rapidly than we or the earth can actually adapt, and keeping up to the pace is stressing everyone and everything. Human desire tends always toward bigger, bolder, brighter, and better... but in our obsession with our desires, we forget that small, gentle, quiet and simple ways are often much better for our souls and bodies.
For too long, we have gone along with an "irrational confidence in progress and human abilities." The good news is that some of us are starting to see the problems caused when we think we know everything we need to know, and by living in such a hurry all the time. I'll never forget hearing Canadian scientist and TV personality, David Suzuki, at a teacher's conference in 1989 where he talked about the fallacy of perpetual growth. For me, it was the beginning of critical thinking about the pace of North American life and the finite nature of our planet's resources.
Pope Francis is inviting us to "become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it (paragraph 19)." With our planet's declining health and climate change in the news more and more, we can no longer sweep our environmental problems under the carpet and go on as if nothing is wrong. We have the power to stop turning our planet into salt lands by choosing to live more simply, using what we have as well as we can, and demanding that the products we choose are recyclable, or better yet, wasteless (I'm thinking of the endless over-packaging of so many store items).
Back in October, I attended a Zero Waste Workshop led by Bea Johnson. I was well aware that it's possible to avoid many single use items like plastic straws, water bottles, grocery bags and single use coffee cups (I no longer go for groceries/coffee with friends unless I have my reusable bags/mug with me). But Bea and her family take it to a whole other level, and since her workshop, I've been refilling containers at Earth's General Store and Bulk Barn more regularly, and looking for more ways that I can reduce the packaging in our lives. Check out Bea's website and the video below to see Bea show us what's possible...
So how are you going to make less of a mess of our planet in the week ahead? How can you encourage those around you to create less garbage and trouble for our sister, Mother Earth?