Members of the Confluence Climate Collaborative first met during the discussion course “A World of Health: Connecting People, Place, and Planet” held at La Vista Ecological Learning Center in Godfrey, Illinois, where I have been staff for seventeen years. The vibrant energy expressed around the topic along with the expertise each one brought to the table motivated us to continue as a formal group with the mission of educating about the climate crisis. What an absolute delight it has been to encounter these kindred spirits with their depth of passion! Collaborative members have become sacred companions on my life’s journey, and they have awakened me to tend the cry of Earth and the cry of people in unexpected ways.
I came to La Vista after a life-changing sabbatical in 2004 when I discovered the works of Thomas Berry, cultural historian, whose writings shifted my worldview and re-set my life’s course. I am especially grateful to him for deepening my spiritual life.
Thomas writes, The spirituality of Earth refers to a quality of the Earth itself, not a human spirituality with special reference to the planet Earth. Earth is the maternal principle out of which we are born and from which we derive all that we are and all that we have. We come into being in and through the Earth. Simply put, we are Earthlings. The Earth is our origin, our nourishment, our educator, our healer, our fulfillment. At its core, even our spirituality is Earth derived. The human and the Earth are totally implicated, each in the other. If there is no spirituality in the Earth, then there is no spirituality in ourselves. (The Sacred Universe, 69)
Since this awakening, I have given myself to ecological spirituality and ecological education and to the value of combining them. Ecological Spirituality awakens me to the Sacred that is grounded in my experience of life on Earth, and ecological education gives me a forum for sharing that. This grounding in Earth has been a healing experience, bringing mind, body, spirit and together in my greater self, Earth, and beyond into the cosmos.
In the photo I am pictured with the young men who are studying at La Vista this year. Together we are exploring this bioregion, learning its gifts and ecological challenges, and meeting people striving to address them. Our field trips have provided a way to awaken and deepen our love of Earth and make that all-important connection between ecology and spirituality. After a year in the United States discerning their vocations as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, these international students will return to their home countries and hopefully share what we have explored together.
I titled this piece Awakening because that word describes how I want to experience each day of life, especially since I woke up to my embeddedness in the sacred Earth community. I hope these 40 days of rekindling connection to Earth have been an awakening for you as we experience Earth waking up after a lovely, long winter.
Finally, on behalf of the Collaborative, I invite you to join us for our Earth Day celebration, Spring into Healing on April 24th. We’d love to meet you. Spring blessings to you and yours!