During the time of COVID-19 lockdowns, I participated in a webinar on Deepening Presence of the Laudato Si’ goals, with Sr Brenda Pettigrew, a Sister of Mercy in Newfoundland, Canada. The seven Laudato Si’ goals had been launched by Vatican in May 2021 and are based on the vision of Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter, Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home. Sr Brenda said, Ecological Spirituality, Laudato Si’ Goal 6, invites us to make greater contact with creation and take a break from the mind. Being in touch with our heart in creation is essential to renewing our relationship with Earth. For too long we have taken for granted the intellectual constructs that drive the workings of our lives and societies. Sr Brenda talked about heart practice and asked the question, what softens us in terms of creation? Maybe the answer is animals, plants, forests, the tiniest of creatures, sunrises, seashores? “If we truly believe we are in relationship with all that is, there is a lifetime of exploration.”
The inner work of transformation invites reawakening our awareness of the sacred in every being and all creation. Staying in touch with the heart in creation can lead to feelings of deep gratitude, and in turn shape the way we live and act. Gratitude is a prized universal value that is put into practice for good works in many traditions. Robin Wall Kimmerer a scientist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation of the United States of America says, “gratitude is most powerful as a response to the Earth because it provides an opening to reciprocity, to the act of giving back, to living in a way the Earth will be grateful for us.”
September is known in Australia as Biodiversity Month, a time to promote the importance of connecting with creation and protecting biodiversity in all its diversity. Here in Australia we are blessed by biodiversity that is rich and unique and yet faces multiple threats. The overall health of Australian plants, animals and ecosystems in a state of decline.
In the light of all the heavy information about ecological damage, it can be very freeing to find ways to make a tangible difference and grow in awareness and commitment at the same time. People from all walks of life join local ecosystem restoration events in urban areas that support the local ecology to heal whilst generating community benefits. At a recent urban creek restoration event here in Melbourne, the group organiser stated joyfully of all her committed volunteering work with an extended band of evolving companions and collaborators, “I just love the creek!”
 “Returning the Gift,” October 2013.
Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM
Peace, Ecology and Justice Office
Columban Mission Centre, Essendon
- Read more from the current e-Kaulotu - October 2023