By Jim Green
I am writing this short account of our weekend workshop immediately after listening to an episode of “Costing the Earth” on BBC Radio 4. I write it with tears in my eyes. This episode of the regular series was entitled “Eco Anxiety”. The programme’s website introduces it with these questions: “Is the future of the planet making you depressed? Do you feel paralysed, unable to imagine the happiness of future generations?” There are only painful answers to these questions.
These are challenges that threaten to overwhelm and disable each one of us who has not sought comforting refuge in denial. It was an acute awareness of them that moved Peter and Ruth Musgrave to facilitate a workshop at The Meditatio Centre on Saturday 11th May. They chose to call it “Meditation and Hope Amidst Climate Chaos” and they further asked, “What does hope look like in the uncertainty of climate breakdown?” Well, one answer to that is that it looks like thirty people of all ages and differing spiritual traditions (or none) coming together to talk, listen deeply, cry, laugh, share food, rage, face agonizing truths and sit in a large circle of prayerful, patient silence.
We watched deeply distressing video footage, curated by Pete who has done a great deal of community development work in Bangladesh, showing the harsh and heart-breaking reality of the climate catastrophe unfolding in that country. Looking at colourful images of beautiful animals and plants, we lamented the thoughtless destruction we are raining down on our brothers and sister of the natural world. We sat in meditation; we went silently into the green spaces around The Meditatio Centre; we reflected on the prophetic warnings and inspirations being given to us by those with sufficient vision to see exactly what is happening. The words of one of these, the great progressive theologian and activist, Walter Wink, sustained us and pointed the way forward, reminding us that:
- We must not try to bear all the suffering of creation ourselves
- Prayer is a means of protection from the power of the Domination System
- History belongs to the intercessors (those who can envision and bring into being a better future, created by the irresistible force of hope)
This was a deeply moving, game-changing event, beautifully designed and hosted by Peter and Ruth. I was not the only one, I think, who felt more and more tearful as the day wore on. But alongside that sensation was an even more powerful, growing sense of hope and – yes – even joy.
A psychotherapist interviewed for the Eco Anxiety programme recommended a way out of the paralysing dread and despair: “You should not be facing this alone. You really need to connect with community…Find your pack, find your clan and join with them, so you’re not alone, and that is part of the solution”. That is exactly what we did on Saturday, encountering the hope and strength that comes from lamenting together as one. We discovered in our own shared experience the truth of St Augustine’s words: “We must pray as if everything depends on God, and act as if everything depends on us”. As was said even before that: “With God, all things are possible”.
The “Eco Anxiety” episode of “Costing the Earth” is available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00050qr
HOPE IN TIMES OF CRISIS
The World Community for Christian Meditation Australia (NSW)
Sat April 13, 2019 COMMUNITY DAY
Book of Wisdom
“Hope for the salvation of the world lies in the greatest number of wise people.”
We gathered to explore together how our meditation practice can contribute towards healing the many crises in our world today through our inner work, our work together as a contemplative community and in exploring who we are as part of God’s interdependent creation.
Our shared exchange was based on ideas and challenges arising from the recent John Main Seminar
“A Contemplative Response to the Crisis of Change” (Sept. 2018)
John Main “The spiritual task of life is to feed hope. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within….the whole purpose of wrestling with life is to be transformed into the self we are meant to become; to step out of the confines of our false securities and allow our creating God to go on creating in us”
Laurence Freeman (Feb 2004) “great shifts in consciousness need to be worked out at the individual was well as the communal level – we need to transform ourselves before we can change the world for the better”