Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 22, 2019

Earth Concerns News

HomeLand Committee Sponsors "Awakening the Dreamer: Changing the Dream" Symposium

by Sister Linda Neil. CSJ 

In April, the Home/Land Committee sponsored the Awakening the Dreamer; Changing the Dream Symposium at the Hospitality Center. About 30 persons participated in this day-long program, presented by Kathleen Pritty, RSM, and Sue Weinczski, RSM.
The program is sponsored by the Pacamama Alliance which has as its mission, "to empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture, and using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world." (Pacamama Alliance,
The vision of the program is to encourage individuals to commit to "bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on the planet as the guiding principle of our times." To me, this focus is really another way to express our chapter focus on communion. All that communion and transformation call us to is alive in this passionate purpose: the creation of a human consciousness that is one with the whole web of life.
Awakening the Dreamer is not a "dreamy- eyed" program; it begins with a very sobering segment on "Where we are" as an Earth Community. As we know, the news is not good, and the consequences of greed and unconsciousness are bearing down on Earth in crisis proportions. Many in the human community feel that we have a right "not to know"; that is, to be left alone and not to be upset by the state of Earth, not to be inconvenienced by what is going on with our planet and all her species. The second segment of the presentation focused on "How did we get here." We reflected on the unintended consequences of our unexamined assumptions. For example, what is the unintended consequence of our unexamined assumption that Earth is resource? This assumption makes humans very competitive, ego driven and unabashed consumers. We were challenged to question all assumptions and to awaken from the trance of our cultural presumptions. Next, we looked at "what is possible." Amazing things are going on at the grass-roots level all over the world.
There are over two million organizations working on justice issues related to Earth, animal species, forests, humans, oceans, etc. The abundance of human creativity in responding to so many issues in positive ways is astounding! Of course, we can do all this because we are growing in consciousness of how our Earth manifests herself and the Creator. Then we considered "Where do we go from here?" We were reminded that is it so important to stand for something and not against something. We were encouraged to be faithful to personal practices in regards to justice and sustainability. We need to be clear and unswerving in our communication about the urgency for change. We need to focus on collective, collaborative action. In all of this, the environmentalist and writer, Joanna Macy reminded us to resist dysfunction, create new structures and shift our consciousness.
The conference gave us two images that I find very compelling and that tie into where we are as sisters and associates as preparations for chapter call us to enter into "beholding and seeing." The first image was that of the condor and the eagle. For the First Nation people of the Pacamama Alliance, the condor represents spirituality: the movement of the heart and reverence for all life. This spirituality has always been their primary focus. For these indigenous people, eagle is the energy of the mind, technology, the advancement of science and business. This is the hallmark of the Western world. What is needed now is a balance of the two, a unity, a communion of these two visions of life. Beholding and seeing the whole web of life and our Earth as home in all of our activities and plans are critically needed now.

The other image is that of the imaginal cells of a caterpillar. This is a wonderful explanation of the imaginal cells: "The caterpillars new cells are called 'imaginal cells.' They resonate at a different frequency. They are so totally different from the caterpillar cells that his immune system thinks they are enemies (and gobbles them up), but these new imaginal cells continue to appear. More and more of them! Pretty soon, the caterpillar's immune system cannot destroy them fast enough. More and more of the imaginal cells survive. Then an amazing thing happens! The tiny, lonely imaginal cells start to clump together into friendly, little groups. They resonate together at the same frequency, passing information from one to another. Then, after awhile, another amazing thing happens! The clumps of imaginal cells start to cluster together! A long string of clumping and clustering imaginal cells, all resonating at the same frequency, all passing information from one to another there inside the chrysalis. A wave of good news travels throughout the system (lurches and heaves) but not yet a butterfly. Then at some point, the entire, long string of imaginal cells suddenly realizes all together that it is something different from the caterpillar. Something new! Something wonderfull! In that realization is the shout of the birth of the butterfly!" (Jonia Mariechild, MS, AImaginal Cells,at

This reality of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly has so many connections, but an urgent one is that we are called to a deeper consciousness in being these imaginal cells on our planet. We are uniting with others, risking the change, embracing the work of creating a new human presence on Earth! The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, from ravenous human to connected human has begun, and we are beholding and dreaming how we continue to be a part of this work.
In the months ahead, the Home/Land Committee will continue to reflect on the theme of the Awakening the Dreamer program; so we can all stay aware and awake to the deepening call to communion with all of creation!