Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletDecember 15, 2017

Earth Concerns News

Deepening Communion with Creation: A Congregational Feature


At their April2008 meeting, the congregational communication directors identified a theme for this year's collective articles which have appeared in the various unit publications. The focus for 2008-2009 is on the 2007 Acts of Chapter and how each act is lived out daily in the life and ministry of each sister and ACOF (associate, consociate, ohana and Familia de San José). In this issue, the respondents considered the act of chapter:"Deepening Communion with Creation." We are grateful for the responses from the various units.

The Creation Story has been passed along to us for many generations through many different cultures with each generation and culture adding its own insight and color to God's love affair with creation. The reflections on the act of chapter, "Deepening Communion with Creation," bring out our small addition to the Creation Story, our awareness of God's love affair with the Earth and the responsibility that is ours as caregivers.
 
Star Lum Kee, CSJ Ohana (HI)
Most likely, each of us is living in a different situation concerning environmental issues, but all of us carry the same a sacred responsibility and duty to use wisely and cautiously those resources that have been placed in our care.
 
Concerning the environment, I like to implement the "3-R" approach as much as possible. "Recycling" needs to be a part of everyone's life. Plastics, glass, aluminum and newspapers are all worthy candidates for containers at redemption sites. "Reusing" such items as clothing, furniture, household items and even cars, gives a second life to these items at the local thrift shop or other neighborhood charitable organization. "Reducing" our use of current resources is the third "R." and perhaps the most underused one in society. If each person could reduce his or her environmental consumption of such items as water, paper or electricity by even ten percent, then we could secure the right to these same resources for future generations.
 
As a mother and grandmother, I feel my most significant contribution towards saving the resources of our beautiful planet may be in the area of education. By helping my family to understand the responsibility that each of us has to conserve the gifts of God's creation, then collectively our impact will be much greater as we strive to maintain those God-given resources for future generations.
 
Evelyn Char, CSJ Ohana (HI)
As I walked around my neighborhood this sun-filled morning, "the sacredness of all life and creation" surrounds me with beauty. Living on an island in the midst of a vast blue ocean raises my awareness that our resources are finite; we must be responsible stewards of God's generosity.
 
"We acknowledge our own complicity and call ourselves to radical choices." What does that mean to me? How do those words affect me? What radical choices can I make? I challenge myself to think about my own complicity as I go about my day. When I recycle the trash I make, some of the food scraps can go to the worms I'm cultivating for organic fertilizer for plants; newspaper and certain plastics are put in the recycle bin for pickup by the city. (Before this new city program began, I took those items to bins at a nearby station in the community.) Yard trimmings and grass cuttings are also periodically picked up by the city. I try to conserve water every way I can think of, especially by not letting the faucet or shower run longer than absolutely necessary. Hanging laundry on the clothesline and taking advantage of our abundant sunshine and trade winds save electricity, and the clothes smell so fresh!

Those a actions, however, don't seem like radical choices to me because they are relative easy to do. Radical means going beyond my comfort zone. It means speaking out and encouraging others, actively advocating for city-recycling pickup for the whole state. It means being alert to information about ways to conserve and care for our resources and sharing that information with others. It means choosing to pay the higher cost of purchasing a hybrid vehicle and to carefully plan my itinerary each day in order to economize on gas. It means donating to organizations (such as the Nature Conservancy or National Parks Conservation Association) that maintain and protect nature and natural habitats in our country.

Being the recipient of God's bounty, it is my responsibility to live in "right relationship with Earth." 

Sister Donna Gibbs (LA)
To live the Great Communion that creation reveals, I have discovered that we must distinguish the difference between knowing about Earth and being in direct relationship with Earth. As a science teacher in Kindergarten through Grade 8, I strive to strengthen the bond my students have with the natural world, so I tell them the Universe Story at the beginning of each school year. Then throughout the year we embark on experiential discoveries that, hopefully, deepen our Earth identity and eco-spirituality. John Muir reminds us, "One day's exposure to mountains is better than carloads of books." In this spirit, we claim our almost fourteen-billion-year-old ancestry, partner with stars, dance with galaxies and tap into Universe Wisdom as we relate with Earth and Earth elements as subjects rather than study them as objects.
 
We marvel at the self-organizing dimension of the Universe as Sun's colors organize around the prism. We appreciate how our existence emerges from Earth's right relationship within our Solar System and Galaxy. We nurture and harvest plants in our school garden, build models of our local land forms, celebrate with flowers and notice diverse relationships between plants and insects. The water cycle, carbon cycle, rock cycle and life cycle show us how Earth's great communities form and transform one another, including us. We come to understand that emergence is irreversible and non-repeatable. Symbiotic relationship, predator/prey alliances and nesting (smaller wholes embedded into larger wholes) proclaim how we are all connected. Finally, we realize that sacred consciousness as we know it involves embodiment and that we are co-creators with our environment. We imagine a culture that honors the entire Earth community.
 
Sister Joanna Bramble (LA)
I often give myself time with the beauty of San Francisco Bay and the ocean, mountains and Redwood Forest of California. Silence and solitude deepen my awareness that everything is sacred, reminding me that I am one with God and with the whole community of life. My compassion and courage to work for change is renewed whenever I let myself be open to the pain and joy of all beings, including myself. My ministry as development director for St. Mary's Center, which finds housing for homeless seniors, teaches me that the same systems that oppress the poor also oppress the Earth; the poor are hurt most by the destruction of the Earth. I lead "Opening the Global Heart" retreats and workshops, combining awareness of the sacred with the call to work for justice and the survival of our plant. Whenever possible, I protest our country's wars in Iraq and other places, knowing that, in addition to killing innocent humans, war destroys the Earth itself. My local community eats beef only a few times a year, and we buy mostly organic, locally grown food. Teilhard Chardin spoke of a change in consciousness of a large number of individuals, a new "way of seeing" which would trigger a critical contagion of change. What if that change is happening in our lifetime, and we are an essential part of it? I am awed by the ongoing challenge and opportunity.
 
Sister Carol Johnson (SL)
"The sacredness of all life and creation motivates our urgent concern for Earth and survival of its life systems." I was one of the million of people on Earth who didn't give a thought to the life around me, which meant I was complacent with the beauty around me. I was complacent with all of God's magnificent work.
 
Then the first reminder occurred. One day I was living my "routine" life when all of a sudden out of nowhere came a major medical emergency. I was throwing blood clots and ended up in the hospital. For ten days it was touch and go. God still had work for me to do, so I was blessed with the opportunity of returning home. However, God taught me a small lesson. When I walked out of the hospital, I was amazed at the beauty around me. It was like watching the Wizard of Oz when the door in the black-and-white house opened, and there was the world of color, light and beauty. I tried to incorporate this beauty into my life. It changed the way I viewed people and things around me, but it wasn't as awe-inspiring.
 
Then, the second reminder occurred. I learned I needed cataract surgery. I knew it was a simple procedure. What I didn't know was the profound effect it would have on me. The first day I had the bandages removed and went outside, I found myself in a bright, clear world. I could drive down the street and see the individual leaves on the trees. They were no longer a "blob of green." Each tree was different! I have developed a love for trees. They have taught me that every human, animal, snowflake, raindrop is unique and a beauty unto itself.
 
Then, the third reminder occurred. Almost five years ago during a routine medical exam, and several tests, I was told that I needed open-heart surgery! It was a scary prospect. The result was a quadruple bypass which left me in the hospital for almost a week. Once again God, in his infinite wisdom, still had work for me to do and allowed me to return home. Again, upon leaving the hospital, I marveled at God's many wonders and was full of joy at watching the sunrise, looking out at the world as the flower bloomed and the green grass grew. I felt the gentle wind on my face as I sat on the porch and watched the rain as it hit the windows.
 
Now my life is one, constant beauty. God has given me eyes of clarity to see his wonders. He has given me senses to enjoy the beauties around me. He has given me a sense of wonder and awe of all the magnificent works he has done for us!
 
My new Deepening Communion with Creation encompasses my immediate surroundings and opens my eyes to the world around me. It makes me aware that much needs to be done by myself and by all of us to ensure that future generations will have a world they can look upon with wonder and awe!
 
Sister Clare Pelkey (A)
"The sacredness of all of life and creation" ... These words drew me to deepen my awareness of the Divine in all of creation, the non-human as well as the human, and to reverence and respect each as a unique expression of Divine Presence. On a practical level, this act of chapter calls me to respond to organizations which aim to preserve Earth's integrity by providing an opportunity to sign online petitions to government agencies. Thus one voice, added to numerous other voices in an attempt to foster systemic change and justice, may lead to transformation.
 
Sister Jean Nelson (SP)
The new cosmology tells us how our universe developed and our special place in it. It defines who we are and what we're about. We live in a world that learns from mistakes. To be aware of this fact means we must realize we can't compromise our future needs with our "now' needs. It is up to us to act with "urgent concern for Earth and the survival of Earth's life systems." (Acts of Chapter)
 
Sister Rosemary Brueggen, (SL)
Having grown up on a farm, I've been aware of being in communion with the Earth for many of my 63 years. At a very young age I was planting and caring for my own flower garden as well as helping with the huge vegetable garden that was planted every year. I'm the oldest of ten, so a large garden was necessary.
 
I began recycling at Nazareth in the early 1980s with Sister Bernatta Meyer. I have put much effort and time into it for well over 25 years, long before our act of chapter, "Communion with the Earth" were words calling us to a concerted effort to care for the Earth.
 
Currently and for the past six years, I have cared for three gardens on the east end of the Oleatha Parkway in south St. Louis. These gardens belong to the city of St. Louis. Several of us had lived in the neighborhood and tended the gardens for Operation Brightside, whose members are still grateful that I have chosen to be in communion with the Earth in this way. As I dig, rake, cultivate, plant and weed (as well as pickup litter on the stretch), people drive, bike or walk by and frequently stop to tell me "Thank-You for doing that. It's beautiful." Yes, the dear neighbor appreciates what God and I have done. Even if no one takes the time to comment, I am still very content as I enjoy being "in communion with the Earth" It's very invigorating!
 
Sister Roseann Giguere (SP)
Over the course of the past two Congregational Chapters, I have been drawn into the creation of this act. My involvement came from realizing the gift that creation consciousness is for me and for others I know. Creation, and the richness of the Creation Story, are evident in the Earth and its cycles. It is the basis of my own spiritual life and is foundational to my understanding of all relationships. It nurtures something very deep within me and has increased my awareness of how I am a part of Earth and have a responsibility to live in communion with Earth's energy.
 
Sister Kathleen Holmberg (SP)
I can't say that the section "Deepening Communion with Creation" in the 2007 Acts of Chapter has changed or moved me in the sense of it being something new, but I am glad that the congregation has included it as and act of chapter. Awareness of our communion with creation has been growing within me over many years. There are many persons, things and events that are part of this growing. The writings of Teilhard De Chardin and Beatrice Bruteau immediately come to mind. Just recently Roseann Giguere, CSJ, gave a most inspiring talk on Communion with Creation to the Consociate candidates. Her presentation made a strong, moving impression on me. It has prompted has me to meditate on the first paragraph of the Prologue to St. John's Gospel. I think we have only begun to understand what Communion really means. In time to come, as we move to a deeper realization, we will be transforming more than just our thoughts and attitudes; we will be participating more fully in the Mystery of Transformation. For this reason I am happy that we have this particular mandate from the Congregational Chapter of 2007. 
 
Sister Ruth Margaret Rupp (SL)
Looking eastward out the windows at Carondelet in the morning, I see both the beauty of the rising sun over the Mississippi River and the muddy, polluted waters of the river flowing toward the Gulf. The sun brings the light of hope for creation; the river and all its tributaries reminds us of all the life systems which depend on prayer in this sacred place called Carondelet.
 
Sister Mary Ellen Curtin (A)
It is my heart's desire to grow each day in communion with creation. This act of chapter calls to me to be and become one with the natural world, in all its beauty and abundance. It reminds me of my role as a human being to become more contemplative and mindful of where and how I make an impact on Earth. Conserving, buying recycled goods, gardening and buying from local farmers are all a part of this impact we have on Earth.
 
My questions are often: What is enough? How can I live sustainably and simply? How can I be content with what I have and share with my abundance?
 
Coming to know the Story of the Universe as our common story has made all the difference in my life. I now see God, self, others and all creation with very different eyes and awareness. I love sharing this story and its principles through workshops and retreats. It has given me a way of being more reflective and becoming more conscious of the evolutionary process in life.