by Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde
My waking morning meditation hour began this Earth Day on Facebook. With a tap to my smart phone screen, I watched, in silence, the video of an invitation to replace plastic straws with stainless steel ones. Re-posted by a parent friend at my daughter’s Catholic school, I was moved to be in solidarity with this kind of environmental consciousness, this kind of invitation to act and engage with opportunities to choose different ways we may be stewards of this earth, that we may respect what God has created.
A month ago, in my waking, another voice of environmental consciousness came to me in my waking. It was that of Fr. Thomas Berry, shared in Richard Rohr’s daily meditation, which arrives in my inbox each day.
Fr. Berry was quoted:
“The task of renewing Earth belongs to Earth, as the renewal of any organism [even the church] takes place from within. Yet we humans have our own special role, a leading role in the renewal, just as we had the dominant role in the devastation. We can fulfill this role, however, only if we move our basic life orientation from a dominant anthropocentrism to a dominant ecocentrism. In effecting this change, we need to listen to the voices of Earth and its multitude of living and non-living modes of expression.”*
The act of listening to our earth, to creation, moves me deeply. Shifting sideways from being at the center of this renewal, to place our precious Earth and her voice at the center, is a holy act, a humble act. We can ask: What is the earth saying to us? How is God speaking to us through her?
I think of how God spoke to me in this morning’s video. As I watched in silence the removal of a plastic straw from a turtle’s nose, I contemplated the horror of that experience. Then, I imagined God’s delight in making turtles. Making the waters. Making turtles dive and snap, gliding elegantly around the earth through the ocean’s blue depths. The experience of sadness and awe, pain and love, all come together in my body in this kind of contemplation of the earth at the center of the renewal. This, for me, is God speaking through creation. I am listening.
While Berry touches in on grief for extinct life in his writing, he also points toward profound hope in our renewal process. Fr. Berry’s identification of the renewal process —as starting within —touches something deep within me. It affirms a power and also a relationship. A right relationship we are called to with creation, one another, with ourselves, with God.
Perhaps this re-orientation, this right relationship, this invitation to listen to God through our Earth speaks to you, too, this day?
In peace, prayers, listening solidarity,
Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, Visitation Companion
*Thomas Berry: Selected Writings on the Earth Community, ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim (Orbis Books: 2014), 77-78.