Stick your hands in the earth and avoid conspiracies

Stick your hands in the earth and avoid conspiracies
Living Laudato Si’

Lent has always invited us into a desert experience, but this year we are experiencing a real wilderness. The pandemic has forced us all into spaces where we are faced with big questions and worries. In Pope Francis’ new book, Let Us Dream, he says that to enter into crisis is to be sifted. Our ways of thinking are shaken up, our priorities and lifestyles are challenged. He says, “the basic rule of a crisis is that you don’t come out of it the same. If you get through it, you come out better or worse, but never the same.” When we are faced with difficult experiences, such as our present situation, our hearts are revealed. Some people give everything in service of those in need: healthcare workers, chaplains, teachers, parents, grandparents, those working in ministry of all kinds, those reaching out to others by phone, by webinars, through many acts of kindness. Others retreat down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and violence. Laudato Si’ reminds us that “every violation of solidarity and civic friendship harms the environment” (LS, 142) because it has consequences for the quality of human life and we are part of a wider web of life.

It is easy to become closed down, and God knows there have been days during this pandemic when that is all we had the energy for. But we cannot remain there. In Laudato Si’ we are called to a deep interior conversion where our relationship with one another and with God’s creation is concerned. We are reminded just how interconnected everything is: concern for the poor, economics, politics, care for our environment and interior peace. During this Lenten season and these lockdown days, can we recover a sense of belonging to each other and to God’s creation? We cultivate this sense of belonging by reaching outward to our family members and neighbours with small acts of kindness and mercy. We recover a sense of belonging to God’s creation by spending time, with awareness, in nature. These small acts have a ripple effect across our networks and communities.

So, in these remaining weeks of Lent, how can you and your family reach out to someone? Can you phone a friend, write a letter to someone, check in on a neighbour, pray for those on the frontline? And how can you connect more deeply with nature? Plant something. Anything. Herbs, flowers, veggies, stick your hands in the earth. Watch nature. Listen. At the end of each day ask yourself, where did I see God’s presence in nature today? Reaching out to others and caring for creation are interconnected, for we belong to each other, each of us part of this wonderful web of life.  Our lives become most fulfilled when we acknowledge and build up these different dimensions in harmony.

Jane Mellett is the Laudato Si’ Officer  with Trócaire.