A reflection by Sue Martin, Coordinator for the JISA Being with God in Nature ministry
IMAGINE. RECREATE. RESTORE. This is our moment. We cannot turn back time. But we can grow trees, green our cities, rewild our gardens, change our diets and clean up rivers and coasts. We are the generation that can make peace with nature. Let’s get active, not anxious. Let’s be bold, not timid. (www.worldenvironmentday.global)
These beautiful words for the 2021 World Environment Day theme, ask us all to ‘take a moment’ to ‘make peace with nature’ on 5 June 2021. What does this call to ‘make peace with nature’ mean for me? My special place is the Blue Gum forest in Kenthurst, Western Sydney. This photo was taken on an Earth Day walk earlier in 2021 with St Madeleine’s parish, Debbie Dela Paz from Christian Life Community, and the Jesuit Province’s Reconciliation with Creation Advisory Committee, in amongst the majestic Eucalyptus saligna.
There is the saying ‘you can’t have peace without justice’. So is this a time to listen to the call to ‘hear the cry of the earth’ and ‘the cry of the poor’ as an integral ecology. We are invited to listen to the ‘cry of the earth’ to grow our ecological justice practice within our lives and form our ecological consciousness journey towards a green heart that can make peace with nature. For me, I am hearing the call as we build the Australian Jesuit Province’s actions to respond to COP26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference).
Also, JISA’s Being with God in Nature ministry team has recently undertaken formation on ‘ecological conversion’ which can be defined as the effects of an encounter with Jesus Christ which becomes evident in our relationship with the world around us (LS.217). Ignatian Spirituality is about being ‘contemplatives in action’ and ‘finding God in all things’. Caring for our planet is part of our journey as Ignatian people.
Founder of the Being with God in Nature ministry Peter Saunders recently reflected “If Ignatius was here today, I believe he would be just as concerned as Pope Francis about caring for nature. Ignatius had a great love of nature. He had his most profound mystical experience at Manresa as he ‘sat down for a little with his face towards the [Cardoner] river, which was running deep below. After his conversion Ignatius spent a great deal of time walking long distances across Europe before he settled in Rome. I imagine that these journeys on foot through nature, necessary and commonplace before modern roads and transport systems, were part of Ignatius’ spiritual journey.”
In this the Ignatian Year, reflecting on Ignatius’ ecological conversion will be part of the International Ecological Conversion Conference being held online in April 2022 https://iiec.org.au/ For ways to delve deeply into Ways to Care for Creation visit www.faithecology.net.au/ten_things_to_do
This World Environment Day how will you take a moment to make peace with nature?