Nurturing Ecological Spirituality – A Blessing and Responsibility

Participants at the recent Archdiocesan event Environment, Justice and Faith were offered the opportunity to experience a meditation of the Cosmic Walk as a way to nurture their ecological spirituality. According to Sr. Noreen Allossery-Walsh, OSU, facilitator of the meditation, “since the justice work of restoring health and harmony to the planet requires a “long haul” commitment, it is critical to constantly renew our energies through the cultivation of a deep and expansive spirituality”.

Those who attended the evening co-sponsored by The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and Scarboro Missions discovered that meditating on the Cosmic Walk expands one’s spirituality through an encounter with the magnificence story of the emerging universe. The walk is an integrative meditation drawing on scientific awareness. Since the stages of development included in the walk are written from the perspective of contemporary science consideration of each stage draws participants into a place where religious awe and scientific revelation meet. By giving one’s attention to this story there is a dynamic experience of the interconnectedness of one’s being to the life of the universe and to the creating force – the Mystery of God active over a span of 13,7 billion years. The Cosmic Walk allows participants to discover the depths of God’s creative powers and in so doing acknowledge a share in these powers as well as a call to use one’s own potential responsibly for the furthering of the unfolding process.

Through the Cosmic Walk we awaken to our long panoramic history as integral parts of the evolving universe and feel within us the presence and summons of this history. As, Teilhard de Chardin observed: By learning to see, by becoming alert and awake in the universe, one feels the call and the presence of the unborn God asking for, or guiding us into, the type of creative action that gives birth to the next moment in the unfolding process. This is an encounter with the Absolute Future calling to the present. Indeed, our ecological vocation is to listen to God’s voice permeating creation and to learn how to best respond. This call has also been echoed by Pope Benedict in his statement urging action on climate change:

Today, we all see that [wo]man can destroy the foundations of his[her] existence, his earth, hence, that we can no longer simply do what we like or what seems useful and promising at the time with this earth of ours, with the reality entrusted to us. On the contrary, we must respect the inner laws of creation, of this earth, we must learn these laws and obey these laws if we wish to survive. Consequently, this obedience to the voice of the earth, of being, is more important for our future happiness than the voices of the moment, the desires of the moment. In short, this is a first criterion to learn: that being itself, our earth, speaks to us and we must listen if we want to survive and to decipher this message of the earth. …we must be obedient to the voice of the earth…

The experience of the new story of the universe through the meditative practice of the Cosmic Walk acts as a springboard for developing a holistic vision of creation in which everyone has a place and responsibility. Because the walk conveys a story which stands as “our universal truth” the ritual is inclusive of all persons. This inclusiveness lends itself to a deep experience of hope that from common origins can emerge a common resolve to work for justice and the healing of our common home. Finally, as Thomas Berry, co author of The Universe Story reminds us, “if we continue to tell our religious stories without this new scientific understanding, then we are trivializing the religious tradition. And similarly, if the scientific community continues to tell the story of the universe only in its material terms – without this inner/psychic/spiritual dimension – then we are trivializing science. Neither one alone can awaken the vision of our children, and their hopes for the future”. Therefore, for contemporary faith communities cultivating our ecological spirituality is indeed both a blessing and a responsibility.

*Special thanks to Marion C. Honors, CSJ for her artwork entitled “Toward a New Time”