Catholic Social Teaching challenges us to Care for God’s Creation. In a way, it is the Earth that is the most vulnerable member of our society. The Earth tries to whisper to us through the rolling waves, the stoic mountains and the wind through the trees, but we do not always listen. Our human behavior is breaking the Earth. The Earth is suffering, and God’s is suffering with God’s creation. Additionally, when environmental issues arise, it is generally the most poor and vulnerable citizens who are the most effected. Asthma rates are high in smoggy inner cities. Children die of diarrhea from drinking contaminated water sources. Cholera breaks out where there is less access to proper sanitation. As people of faith, we need to inform our consciences and act.
Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day 2012. Every day is Earth Day, true. But to celebrate, I use it is a day to have confession and reconciliation with God’s creation. Confession happens, for me, on a personal, communal and systemic level.
Personal: How much space am I taking up on Earth? How can my life be more sustainable? Am I defining myself first as consumer or as human being? Am I considering God’s creation as just people, or the vast glory that surrounds me? I do not have a car, I use re-usable coffee cups and grocery bags. But there is always more I can do.
Communal: Are my spouse and I building a life that takes the Earth into account? In my friend group, at work, and in my neighborhood community, am I actively speaking for and acting on behalf of the Earth? My school promotes recycling and planted a rain garden, my family does not use air conditioning. But there is always more I can do.
Systemic: Am I contributing volunteer time and money to organizations that work to heal the Earth? Am I striving to educate myself about the damage we are doing to the Earth? Am I getting politically active as a faithful citizen and voting in a way that supports God’s Earth? I have been reading a lot about electronic waste lately. I have been supporting an organization that builds solar panels for businesses. But there is always more I can do.
This Earth Day confession is a good, annual and spiritual check in. It usually motivates me to make little Earth to-do lists. There is always more I can do. That is where my Earth Day reconciliation comes in. I can get so busy doing things, that I forget to have communion with God’s creation. I forget to enjoy the unconditional love and healing the Earth has to offer. Where I live, some trees are turning green while others are flowering white and lavender. There is a beautiful brook about ten minutes from my apartment. After confession, I will go walk by the brook and let the smells wash over me. I will let the sun warm my skin. I will feel God’s healing, abundant love, and I will feel refreshed. This Earth Day, make sure you get out and enjoy God’s creation. Be filled with the pure goodness that the Earth offers us unconditionally.
How would your Earth Day confession go?
What is your favorite way to celebrate God’s creation?