This is a brief reflection of the blessed time we recently enjoyed as a family, sailing among some of the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. The islands visited included South Mole, Lindeman, Shaw, Goldsmith, Thomas, Whitsunday, and Hook Islands. The photos are shared to illustrate the utter magnificence of these paradise places, as well as the contrast of the plastic pollution.
These experiences illustrate the different narratives at play in the world as reflected in the Two Standards of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. The face of freedom, life and beauty, unity, belonging and expansiveness on the one hand and the face of death and disconnection, degradation and devastation on the other.
Death and/or the awareness of it, is an integral part of life, the process of recreation and incarnation. That is, if it happens in a natural way! When pollution is witnessed at a visible level, as we experienced during recent weeks, the degradation is clearly not natural and leaves one wondering what is happening at an invisible chemical level.
The worst of the pollution we encountered was on the windward side of the islands, on rocky shores and mangrove high tide levels. The grief of this pollution is real. Forgive us Lord for what we do not know…. forgive us too, for what we do know and keep on doing!
It brings deep sadness finding a turtle skeleton surrounded by plastic and to acknowledge the amount of plastic in our daily lives and how difficult it is to cease using these products. Although we collected lots of marine debris, our efforts seem mediocre, given the immensity of the problem
All the time we are experiencing this in a counter reality, where nature is so life giving.
Where nourishment of the soul happens by simply looking at the stars, the expanse of the horizon, looking into the eyes of a turtle, watching leaves dance in the breeze, feeling the warmth of the sand. Through witnessing our young children’s embrace of the earth, their total spontaneity of interacting with nature and the peace that is shared, we recognise the challenges and find hope for the future.
For there is another undercurrent at play, an awareness of how blessed we are to have the ability to enjoy these places. A deep gratitude emerges for the experience, an embodied experience of grace awakening a desire to live more fully in freedom. For these moments to infiltrate into every aspect of our being and to live out of this connection and awareness of love and life.
Thank you to Amy Youngs for this contribution to our JISA newsletter.