When I take my ideas into the wilderness …
About an Eco-spirituality Experience
I wonder what it would be like to create a Catholic school staff reflection day based on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but have it be about eco-spirituality? Well, here are six tales (in name only, they haven’t been written yet):
- The holy man’s tale (St Francis of Assisi)
- The climate scientist’s tale (Charles Keeling)
- The climate change denier’s tale (Tony Abbott)
- The teen activist’s tale (Anjali Sharma)
- The octogenarian nun’s tale (Sr Brigid Arthur)
- The Noongar Elder’s tale (Eileen Kampaputa Brown)
The tales are presented in six locations. The Cardijn structure of See, Judge, Act is employed in the presentation of each tale. Over the course of a day, every staff member not involved in the presentations will participate in all six stories.
Our destiny …
Our destiny is both temporal and eternal. Yes, I happen to believe that there is a life beyond my human existence in this world. And I also believe that I experience the eternal in my temporal existence.
When I was six years old, I lived in Norseman, a gold-mining town in Western Australia. I attended the local Catholic primary school. One of my memories from those days — apart from having my mouth washed out with soap and water for swearing — was learning about God. I was given a catechism. We studied it. I still remember the following:
Q: Who made you?
A: God made me.
Q: Why did God make you?
A: God made me to know him, love him and serve him here on earth and to be happy with him forever in heaven.
So here I am, about seventy years later, still trying to know, love and serve God.
In 2019, I was fortunate enough to revisit Oxford, England. One day, we walked past Bonn Square. On the far side of this small public space stands the New Road Baptist Church. Its origins go back to 1780, when a group of disheartened Christians broke away from the Church of England and formed their own Church. When I read the covenant of the founders of the Church, I was struck by the similarity with what I was taught in 1952. What I learned about my Catholic faith over the years seemed to resonate with the beliefs and intentions of the founders of the Church.
Cardinal Joseph Cardijn (1882-1967), who founded the YCW and the YCS, taught people about their temporal and eternal destinies. He said that we can begin our eternal destiny as we seek our temporal destiny. And this is done through living our faith in Christ.
Cardijn taught the leaders in the movements he nurtured a simple method to guide their thinking and acting. In the mid-1970s, I came to know the method as the Review of Life and its three steps as See, Judge, Act.