More Spiritual Reflections

Spiritual Reflections


Prayer for Earth Day

Sr. Jean Coughlin, IHM
IHM Center, Scranton
April 15, 2010

Reflection for Earth Day Prayer

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters."

This first line from Genesis, which tells the story of creation, could also be the first line in the telling of the story of the Big Bang. The Big Bang is that single cosmic occurrence that happened 13.7 billion years ago, which resulted in the ongoing act of creation and creativity. This understanding of creation and the cosmos has evolved over the course of time. Indigenous people have always intuitively understood the connection between the creator and all that has been created. Scientists such as Galileo, Einstein and others have opened our minds to new understandings. Even now, with the invention of the Hubble telescope we can see that creation is still expanding and was not a single static event.

Evolution as a process has moved toward increasing complexity and we human beings are the only conscious dimension of creation. It is our calling and our responsibility to cultivate an attentiveness and an awareness of the divine presence in creation. Just as we have been blessed with great scientists and inventors, so we have been blessed with theologians, saints and mystics who guide us in our pursuit of understanding creation and the world around us.

Starting with the Old Testament, we hear the story of creation. The psalms are filled with hymns praising God's creative power. The prophets record songs in praise of God's creation. The ultimate gift of the Creator is revealed in the New Testament. In the prologue to John's gospel, we hear, "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was in God's presence and the Word was God. He was present in the beginning. Through him all things came into being and apart from him, nothing came to be. Whatever came to be in him found life, life for the light of all people."

This Christ, who was with the Creator from the beginning, is our light. As Judy Cannato states in her book, "Radical Amazement", "After eons of preparation, humankind is finally able to receive grace in a more conscious way, through Jesus and his interaction with the Holy One."

As I was preparing this reflection, I came across this poem by Antonio Machado, which I think states it another way:

I love Jesus, who said to us:
heaven and earth will pass away.
When heaven and earth have passed away,
my word will still remain.
What was your word, Jesus?
Love? Forgiveness? Affection?
All your words were
one word: Wakeup.

How do we awaken our consciousness? We look first to the saints and mystics, who by their lives and example, teach us that the path is through contemplation. We know of Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Hildegarde and Thomas Merton to name a few. They have helped us to understand, that there is a harmony between science and contemplation. Today, we refer to this as ecospirituality, which draws attention to the cosmos as a place of God's self revelation.

Through contemplation, we experience the Creator, the Spirit, the Light, the Divine Energy which is alive in us and in all creation. We are one. This wonder can only lead to praise and gratitude. But it also calls forth responsibility and compassion for our world. As Thomas Merton tells us, "The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another."

How important it is then, that we live out our contemplative calling in a more expansive way. Through our awakened consciousness, we understand and appreciate more fully the earth in its beauty and in its fragility. One path that I would suggest to begin or deepen this awakening, would be to contemplate each of our IHM core values from the perspective of ecospirituality.

Beginning with Rootedness in God --- All creation flows from a single source of Energy.

Justice – We are impelled to live in harmony with all creation.

Diversity – We love and respect each and every form of creation.

Wholeness – We expand our understanding to include a rhythm of life in balance with all creation.

And finally Community - We live in a conscious, interdependent, co-creative, relationship with the Creator and all creation.

In my own experience of being more conscious of all creation in relationship to the core value of Community, I was struck one day by the preface at Mass. .......

"through all eternity, You live in unapproachable light ......source of life and goodness, you have created all things to fill your creatures with every blessing. the name of every creature under heaven, we too praise your glory."

In this prayer, I became acutely aware, for the first time, of all of creation, not just human creation, joining together in one common song of praise of God the creator.

As we approach the celebration of Earth Day this year, may I suggest an activity, one that our EarthCare committee used during a retreat day last year.

Go outdoors. Take a very slow walk for 15 or 20 minutes. As you walk, incorporate all of the senses. Stop along the way to take everything in --- the sight, the smell, the feel, the sounds and maybe even the tastes. Contemplate deeply all that you perceive. You will be amazed at what the Creator has in store for you.