Tis' the Season ... of Creation
The return of pumpkin spice to our lives also signals the start of another season: the Season of Creation. September 1st is the start of this amazing extended meditation on our common home and the Creator who gifted us with this home. The end of this season is the feast of St. Francis on October 4th -- the patron of ecologists and guide for all journeying to be better stewards of our planetary home and better neighbors. The theme for this year's Season of Creation is "A home for all? Renewing the Oikos of God".
It is my lofty goal to offer weekly moments of quiet inspiration for the Season of Creation. There are so many wonderful groups offering daily programs, prayers, resources, activities that you can partake in everyday ... I am excited to join in! There are so many worthwhile places to turn but here are a few I recommend ...
Global Catholic Group -- Laudato Si' Movement's Season of Creation
Ecumenical Celebration of the Season of Creation
Season of Creation Website -- and sign up
Catholic Climate Covenant (USA) Season of Creation
Sisters of St. Joseph's Season of Creation
Podcast from Laudato Si' Movement (including Launching of 2021 Season of Creation Episode)
But today I want to focus our contemplation on the phrase: A Home for All?
First let us prayerfully contemplate what Home means.
Home is the starting place of love, hope and dreams
Where do you call home -- and what makes this your home, well, a home and not a house?
Is it the familiarity of the fabrics, pictures, and organization that appeals to your eye and spirit? Is it the smells of cooking, play, bed linens? Is it a sense of peace -- an exhaling after your encounter with the world? Perhaps it is more a chaotic encounter that is uniquely yours?
Is home where you are most authentically you?
Is it a sacred space where you can be vulnerable and strong?
Is it where you feel safe and can thrive physically, emotionally, spiritually?
We don't let just anyone into our homes so perhaps a prayerful exercise would be to recollect what has interrupted or shattered your sense of home:
An unwanted person or conversation breaching your fortress of solitude or castle of chaos?
A violation of trust?
Destruction of the physical space?
The forced relocation to a strange, unfamiliar place?
The loss of a loved one?
Now let's expand our vision ... meditate a moment on the grandeur of the Blue marble ... the picture of Earth taken from space in 1972 ... What does home mean now?
οἰκουμένη, lit. “the inhabited [earth]” -- the earth as a whole
Now let's pray over the phrase 'for all?' Does all really mean all? Each mosquito? Each grain of sand? Each immigrant? Each child?
Take a moment to reflect on all who you came into contact with today -- all your Earthy neighbors?
Big and small; fearsome and gentle...
Those who communicated using words and those who did so by other means;
Those who nourished you and those you nourished
Breathe... let your memories lead you
Give thanks for these encounters.
Who did God bring into your life today? What meaning comes from this encounter?
Who did you encounter in the flesh?
Who did you connect with virtually?
Who was part of your world thanks to interconnection and interdependency? ... perhaps the breath we share in our lungs, the carbon of our cells and the iron in our blood
Who was brought to life in your mind and memory?
What is home for them? What do they need to experience home? What do the inhabitants of Earth need for this space to be a home?
As I reflect I am drawn to suggest certain elements of my sense of home...
Way to transmit wisdom from one generation to another
To be nurtured
Food to sustain
Space for Joy
Security / Safety
Webs of relationships
Reciprocity -- Belonging and Contributing
Balance/stabilization of planetary systems
A Home for All?
That brings me to the ? question mark
Human activities is putting our planetary home in jeopardy. Our children and grandchildren will have to live with the consequences of the short sighted choices of the past. During the Season of Creation the Catholic church and all people of faith are being called to learn more about our common home and how God is calling all of us to new ways of living and loving.
Caring for God's creation does mean being stewards of our resources, reducing our carbon, advocating for green energy, reusing, reducing, and recycling and ensuring viable habitats for wildlife and pollinators. These are wonderful 'green' activities and happening at many churches all across the US.
But creation care also means caring for our elderly, clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, serving the incarcerated. 'A home for all' means working to create a home (remember our above meditation on what makes a home, a home -- good food, clean water, companionship, clothing, purpose, ...) for those deemed less valuable or 'disposable' by society. This is happening in our churches but is there cross-pollination with our creation care ministries? Is the food we are giving the most vulnerable sustainably sourced and good, nutritiously dense food? Is our senior ministries partnering with our youth ministries to learn about each other -- care for each other as they gardening or become reading buddies, or learn to cook recipes passed down through the generations?
As 'church' we do need to meet the immediate needs of people we encounter -- food, shelter, literacy programs, clothing, companionship ... but being 'church' also means asking why they are hungry, homeless, lacking education, naked, and lonely. Caring for creation is connected to caring for our neighbors. Our destinies are interconnected and interdependent. Doing the uncomfortable work of changing systems and expectations, and uncovering biases and blind spots in our churches, ministries, communities, and ourselves is hard, unpopular work but it is prophetic work. It is what Christ did while he walked on Earth and we are called to do the same.
I constantly remind Catholics that our current devaluing of creation did not just pop out of nowhere. It developed in our imaginations for many reasons (see this article for a more in-depth telling of this story) but the end result was that we could only see Earth as an object to use for our benefit. This goes hand in hand with our devaluing and objectifying of those in our human family who we closely connected to Earth -- the poor, sick, elderly, differently abled, indigenous peoples, women...
Caring for creation means thinking faithfully about work, the elderly, the differently abled, healthcare, food systems, and many other parts of our daily lives that may be invisible. This work can begin and deepen in the Season of Creation.
Now the question mark '?'
Will we be like Christ and take up this creation care cross? This is the weight of the question mark in the theme of this Season of Creation. A home for all is not a given -- something that we have optimistically thought for a while. But reality tells us that the millions of Catholics around the world have not taken up this spiritual and ethical mandate ... our planet is destabilizing and homes of our neighbors are being destroyed. We must humbly face the question mark -- and ask ourselves:
What will I do as a person of faith and co-dweller in God's creation to stop the degradation of our common home?
Renewal comes only after a deep reflection on home and its importance -- so this is where I began this first day of the Season of Creation. Throughout this month I will reflect and share my thoughts on home, God's plan(et), and a life of faith as a disciple of Christ and creation care champion.
Catholic Climate Covenant -- We are all part of God's Plan(et)
Will you join me? Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments with me and I will reply in future blogs. Is there anything on your heart that you would like to spend more time unpacking? Is there a topic that you want more resources to discover? Please contact me through my website and I will see what I can do!
Let us conclude our time together by praying together the prayer carefully crafted for 2021 Season of Creation
Prayer Creator of All,
We are grateful that from your communion of love you created our planet to be a home for all. By your Holy Wisdom you made the Earth to bring forth a diversity of living beings that filled the soil, water and air.
Each part of creation praises you in their being, and cares for one another from our place in the web of life. With the Psalmist, we sing your praise that in your house “even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young.”
We remember that you call human beings to keep your garden in ways that honor the dignity of each creature and conserve their place in the abundance of life on Earth. But we know that our will to power pushes the planet beyond her limits. Our consumption is out of harmony and rhythm with Earth’s capacity to heal herself. Habitats are left barren or lost. Species are lost and systems fail. Where reefs and burrows, mountaintops and ocean deeps once teemed with life and relationships, wet and dry deserts lie empty, as if uncreated. Human families are displaced by insecurity and conflict, migrating in search of peace. Animals flee fires, deforestation and famine, wandering in search of a new place to find a home to lay their young and live.
In this Season of Creation, we pray that the breath of your creative Word would move our hearts, as in the waters of our birth and baptism. Give us faith to follow Christ to our just place in the beloved community. Enlighten us with the grace to respond to your covenant and call to care for our common home. In our tilling and keeping, gladden our hearts to know that we participate with your Holy Spirit to renew the face of your Earth, and safeguard a home for all.
In the name of the One who came to proclaim good news to all creation, Jesus Christ.