Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 22, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Thomas Berry's Fourfold Wisdom Guides Conference Theme by Sister Linda Neil, CSJ

In his book, The Great Work, Thomas Berry introduced the theme of the Fourfold Wisdom. "In these opening years of the 21st century, as the human community experiences a rather difficult situation in its relationship with the natural world, we might reflect that a Fourfold Wisdom is available to guide us into the future: the Wisdom of the Indigenous Peoples, the Wisdom of Women, the Wisdom of the Classical Traditions and the Wisdom of Science."

Four Albany CSJs, Sister Mary Lou Dolan, Marion Honors, Lin Neil and Clare Pelkey, joined about 150 Sisters of Earth to reflect on the wisdom of women and the wisdom of indigenous peoples. We were blessed to have time to listen to the wisdom of two extraordinary women: Dr. Vandana Shiva and her sister, Dr. Myra Shiva.
To summarize the work of these women, I'd like to quote from the website of the Sisters of Earth: "Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, eco-feminist and author of several books. Vandana, currently based in Delhi, India, is author of over 300 papers in leading scientific journals. Vandana participated in the nonviolent Chipko movement during the 1970s. The movement, whose majority of participants were women, adopted the tactic of hugging trees to prevent their felling. She has argued for the wisdom of many traditional practices as is evident from her work at Navdanya, a 20 acre farm in Uttranchal, North India. Navdanya is an organic farm and is actively involved in the rejuvenation of indigenous knowledge and culture. One of the ongoing programs at Navdanya is Diverse Women for Diversity which seeks to herald a global campaign of women on biodiversity, cultural diversity and food security. Dr. Myra Shiva, the sister of Vandana and a physician, speaks on Human Health as if the Earth Mattered and the Traditional Healing Wisdom of Ayurveda."
We would like to thank the Lifelong Development Board and the sisters of the province for subsidizing our participation. We would also like to share some of our own thoughts on the conference.
Sister Clare
What struck me very forcibly was a statement made by Vandana: "Knowledge alone will not bring about change. Only when the heart is touched will change come about." In the face of tremendous opposition as well as threats to her family and her life, she exudes peace and wisdom. The 150 sisters, associates and lay women who participated are involved in caring for Earth, a tremendous sign of hope in the face of the actions of giant corporations which seem to be set on rendering Earth unable to sustain its creatures but not before they gain monetarily.           
Sister Marion
At the gathering of Sisters of Earth, I had the best laugh I've had in a long time. One night was given to "Sharing our Gifts," music, stories, lots of poetry; two people did tap-dancing routines. (One was 83 years old!)  One sister told the story of how once long ago when her community still wore habits she'd accepted a sister's urgent plea to be a stand-in liturgical dancer with a group of "professionals" at a Holy Week event with "five bishops sitting in the front row." She had never danced anywhere except in her bedroom where she had imagined she was a graceful ballerina! The Sisters of Earth audience's laughter throughout her very detailed telling of the story was uproarious.
One hundred and fifty women, lay and religious, experiencing Earth as mediating the Divine, knowing well the long list of Earth's tar-dark diminishments and heartbreaking losses, being truly at one with the passion of Earth, working in extraordinarily diverse ways to help transform planetary consciousness, singing and dancing and writing poetry, and sometimes, laughing uproariously ... and against unbelievable odds, still hoping in a viable future for the whole community of life.
Sister Mary Lou
It was a wonderful meeting, a chance to interact with friends old and new. It is encouraging to find out about the great work of so many talented women from all over the United States and Canada. I enjoyed being on the grounds where Thomas Berry lived so many years and seeing the beautiful Hudson River again. Vandana and Myra were so inspiring, so engaged and engaging and so grounded. They are very generous women, now Sisters of Earth formally.
Sister Linda
The power of Sisters of Earth is the power of women who are risk takers, prophetic visionaries and creative forces! Reconnecting with these women and meeting new friends is a very energizing part of Sisters of Earth. Vandana and Myra have been witnesses to incredible violence against Earth and her poor; yet these two women remain staunchly nonviolent. They overcome crushing odds with truth, tenacious faithfulness to the vision of Gandhi, humor and amazing, creative action. I promised myself that I would stop my sniveling and whining when I am faced with opposition about Earth issues! The power of their witness will remain with me for a very long time. Peace with nature and one another and the gifts of the energy of the Universe are touchstones for me from this conference!
(To find out more about Dr. Vandana Shiva and the Nine Seeds Movement-Navdanya, please go to