CREATION: Choices for a Positive Impact
May 31, 2022
Saint Francis of Assisi recognized the Divine Spirit in all things created. As followers of Saint Francis, we are committed to care for Mother Earth and all things related because we belong to the same family. Global warming is a fact that is not only alarming, but also divisive in some situations. Our own home in California has been affected in ways that will have consequences not only locally, but with a larger economic impact beyond the state. Recent studies show that California has resulted in higher-than-average temperatures and decreased rainfall due to global warming, causing increased occurrences of drought and wildfires. California currently produces a large percentage of the country’s vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The economic impact will affect various related industries across the country.
Alarming? Yes. Overwhelming? Maybe. Hopeless? Never! Our Franciscan community sees this as an opportunity to creatively meet the challenge head on. As Saint Francis taught us, “See what is necessary, then do what is possible, and soon you will be doing the impossible!” Our goal is to encounter the challenges that climate change has had on the lives of those around us. We want to examine what is immediately necessary, gather what is possible, so we can accomplish what may seem to be impossible. What affects our Mother Earth, our society, and our neighborhoods affect us all.
I was increasingly concerned with the specter of global warming and the affects it had on my environment. I felt that I needed to do something “big” other than just recycling my throw-aways. I was unsure of how I could make a substantial difference when I remembered St. Francis’ advice to “do what is possible.”
I was teaching at a prominent design college and took a fresh look at how I was teaching; I challenged my students to source and utilize sustainable materials in their assignments, and the results were more than I had envisioned. Not only did this promote critical thinking and creativity, but together we discovered new trends in design. The growing use of soy-based inks and dyes, biodegradable packaging, and plant-based materials that replaced synthetic textiles is not only amazing but is a viable way to be both profitable and ecologically responsible. I realized that I didn’t have to make a “big” move, just use the opportunities I already had to inspire a big difference. The students were not only challenged to use create innovative designs, but now will be professionally competitive in utilizing current industry trends. Big changes happen in what might seem like small opportunities.
The effects of global warming are a reality that is here to stay. How we choose to live with this reality, and how we embrace the opportunities to affect meaningful change can make the
“impossible” become possible. When one of us is affected, then we are all affected. But when one of us decides to make a change, then we are all transformed in the process.
Making a positive change begins with an individual choice to live more responsibly, not just for ourselves, but for the global environment at large. There are many ways in which to do this. You can start by eliminating wasteful practices that you might have taken for granted in the past, try to buy more sustainable products, cut down on unnecessary water usage, and even consider getting involved in community organizations dedicated to making a difference. Our Franciscan community is always open and welcome to those who want to join our efforts, whether in an active way, or just by following our journey for inspiration. Making a conscious choice for positive change and personal growth benefits us all. Together, we can make an impossible situation become a possible reality.
CREATION: Listening to the Groans of Creation
Sister Deborah Lockwood
I held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
Excerpt from the poem,
“what they did yesterday afternoon”
by Warsan Shire
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 22-23
St. Francis loved creation, really loved creation like a person loves a parent, a brother, a sister. He saw the glories of creation and at the same time, he heard the groaning of creation. Today as I sit with an atlas on my lap and move my finger from east to west, I ponder how I am attuned to
the earth’s groaning that has become ever more intense in recent years. I muse and converse with creation…
Brother Sun and Sister Moon, as Saint Francis of Assisi called you, you are precious and radiant in splendor, I cannot live without you. I hear your groans in the dark cold of night and the day illuminates the suffering of creation, near and far. As I move my fingers across the world, I come in contact with so much more than I can in my imagination alone. I can whisper to the places I touch and begin to perceive the groaning of my
world, God’s creation.
As my fingers linger over cities, do I hear you, Brother Wind groaning in the pollution that fills our once clean spaces? Can I discern the suffering of my brothers and sisters coughing and gasping for freshness, for life? As I move my hand, can I hear your howling, Brother Wind, in tempest, hurricane, cyclone, typhoon and monsoon, followed by groans of despair and loss in the wake of the storm?
As I touch oceans and seas, rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, the birthplace of water in the atmosphere, do I remember my experience of you, Sister Water, as you cry tears in abundance in torrential rains and the groaning of floods? The moaning I hear from people and animals displaced, trees and vegetation uprooted and carried away fills my heart, as well as my ears. I can also touch many areas of lack of precious water, places of drought and dryness, the earth cracking in pain and people dying of starvation. Oh, how my world suffers under such stress! Moving on, my hands reach out to places where you, Brother Fire, have been powerful and strong, the earth hurting, scorched by your might and so much destruction. Flora and fauna cry
out in anguish.
There remains our whole planet, you, our Mother Earth, wailing as your inner being is wrenched by earthquakes and volcanoes and your outer shell is mangled by avalanches and tornadoes or eroded by landslides. Mother Earth, you sustain us, can I hear your groans in the imbalances of moisture and healthy soil needed for your providence?
Harry Alan Hahne has said: “The suffering of creation is like birth pangs leading to a glorious new world, rather than the death pangs of a dying creation. The intense pain leads to a joyous outcome.” I am overwhelmed by all the suffering of creation and of the people all over my world. I can become numbed to the groaning of creation and experience great inertia, far from seeing a joyous outcome. Yet, Saint Paul calls us to hope. “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” Romans 12.12 Saint Francis ends his Canticle of Creation with reference to people in the midst of creation, praising God for how each one is called to live in reconciliation and endure in peace. As I attune not only my ears, but more importantly my heart, to the
groaning of creation, I am called to rejoice in hope with each bright sunrise, each bud opening to the new day, each creature born and beginning the wondrous journey to fulness of being in God’s life. Today and forever, I am challenged to live in reconciliation with all of creation and endure
in peaceful living, so groaning may diminish and creation will flourish.
Sister Deborah Lockwood
Redwood City, CA