Earth Day April 22nd

Steavenson Falls, Marysville - Photo: Jacqui RussellSteavenson Falls, Marysville - Photo: Jacqui Russell

Being open to the possibilities that life can offer

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis speaks of developing a contemplative way of living each day, free from the endless pull of excessive consumption. Happiness, he says includes “knowing how to limit some needs which only diminish us, and being open to the many different possibilities which life can offer” (Laudato Si’ n, 223.) Earlier in his Encyclical letter, Pope Francis suggests simple practices to support a contemplative outlook on life, such as remembering and revisiting special places in nature that remind one of friendship with God and that which is most valued in life (Laudato Si’, n 84.)

A Columban co-worker recently spoke of her experience of spending quality time in nature with a dear friend. Reaching the magnificent Steavenson Falls, at the top of their walk through beautiful Eucalyptus forest near Marysville, Jacqui suggested to her friend, “Let's just take a minute in silence.” Listening to the water over the falls, and the birds, smelling the fresh air and simply being still was a peaceful experience Jacqui said, smiling as she shared her experience.

Children too spoke of their appreciation of nature in the special messages they sent in for the 2022 Columban Season of Creation school competition. Students in Australia, Fiji and Aotearoa New Zealand were invited to submit a piece of writing or a drawing reflecting on the theme and questions, 'Listen to the Voice of Creation.' How do you listen to the voice of creation? What do you see and what do you hear? Do you have a favourite place in nature? A wise Year 5 student shared, “I love that everything in God’s creation has its own beauty in a different way” and another said, “We should treat the whole world just like we want to be treated – Respect.” Students in another school who regularly participate in outdoor contemplative prayer shared the beautiful insights that came from their practice. One student says, “The song birds are singing, the joeys are low...

Me and you sitting out here as the wind blows. My favourite part of the school, where we sit,

Peaceful prayers, the candles lit. This is God's Flame. This is God's creation.”

Being in favourite spots and feeling connected with friends, God and all creation can refresh life’s priorities and give sparks of energy and clarity. That everything is connected is the basis for making changes to support the flourishing of life intended by the Creator. Today the needs of people and all life in our Earthly home are ever more pressingly before us. 

Sharing creativity and contemplative dialogue are helpful ways of bridging the gap between the work that needs to be done and then being motivated by faith to lovingly take up action. Plastic pollution, the subject for this year’s Earth Day and other interconnected problems won’t be solved by relying on markets and technological fixes alone, but rather by the ongoing engagement of people. 

Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM
Peace, Ecology and Justice Office
Columban Mission Centre, Essendon