Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 17, 2017

Earth Concerns News

Neighbors by Sister Marion C. Honors, CSJ


In an ecological ethic, Jesus' great command to "love your neighbor as yourself" extends to include all members of the life community. "Who is my neighbor?" asks Brian Patrick. "The Samaritan? The outcast? The enemy? Yes, yes, of course. But it is also the whale, the dolphin, and the rain forest. Our neighbor is the entire community of life, the entire universe. We must love all of it as our very self." (Elizabeth Johnson, Quest for the Living God)

Venus rests low near dawn's lavish horizon, and the half moon hangs high above. Today will be sunny, a relief from May's chilling cold. As the coffee brews, I glance outside to see the two baby rabbits nibbling breakfast near their home under the pile of stone slabs, a place shared by a chipmunk, an old friend I enjoyed watching for a couple of years as she sunbathed, eyes closed, on her stone porch. Later, Kath, Pat, Rose or Mary Ann calls out to me, "Good morning, Neighbor." Thus, the new day has begun, blessed by my dear neighbors, all of them.
 
In Anne Hillman recent book, Awakening the Energies of Love: Discovering Fire for the Second Time, based on the work of Teilhard de Chardin, she writes "There is a deep need in everything for everything. We are more than woven together; we are utterly dependent, as well, on all of existence that has gone before animal, vegetable, mineral, and more." Then she tells this story of what happened while she was snorkeling in the unfamiliar waters of a submerged volcano in the Pacific. When her mask began to leak, she panicked and began thrashing around in the water. "Out of the corner of my eye, a full-grown sea lion plowed toward me from the shore where she been sunning. In seconds, she was swimming in circles around me until she knew she had my attention. Then, she rolled over on her back and showed me how to float on the tide."
 
One and a half million years ago humans became involved with fire. Everything changed for them; they had cooked food, winter warmth and comfortable hearths, as well as burned fingers and charred houses. They had reinvented themselves into humans with fire. With each new consciousness, over hundreds of millennia, right up to our time with the advent of the internet, humans have reinvented themselves, changing everything.
 
By expanding our understanding of "the dear neighbor," an axial phrase in our community history, so that it embraces not only the human but the whole community of life, could we not reinvent ourselves?
 
This is our moment. Let us live connected and in love, so that generations to come will look at us and say, "They were the first generation to really get it. They were the first universal humans, the first to take in the universe and hear its story and know their part in it. They were the first to make choices rooted in the conviction that all life is connected ... They were radically amazing!"
(Judy Cannato, Radical Amazement)