When thinking of this time of year, summertime ending and darker nights coming, we tend to think of the outside world as something to fear. Trees become bare, colder nights slowly creep in and the world of ‘nature’ that we looked at and loved over spring and summer slowly begins to fall away.
This leads me on to think about how we as a society are slowly turning away and beginning to retreat and hibernate at this time of year as if waiting for life to be light again. I think this is something we often do naturally and without much thought. All through this pandemic and the mounting ecological crisis in the world I felt that Jesus was in all the darker places bringing his light to them.
The problems in our society are often only measured by the physical damage that we can see, the landfills full of rubbish, the gas omissions, the planet’s temperature rising, all extremely real problems and problems that do need to be solved. However I feel that we need to realise the ‘problems’ that we need to solve for our ‘common home’ are more than just ‘physical’. The best image I think that can be used to fully appreciate the scale of the ecological crisis, is of the earth, ‘wounded.’ The earth is wounded by the damage that human beings have caused to it physically but is also wounded deeply by what human beings do and say to other human beings.
A quote that captures this for me by Pope Francis in his Encyclical letter Laudato Si reads,
“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”
The problems in our society of not caring for one another as Jesus asks us is a major factor in damaging our common home. Our outlook on life has become wounded. We look on the outside world as something to fear . We too are becoming landfills of negative energy and when we stop putting Jesus as the core temperature of the earth in our lives, we are likely to overheat. Without Jesus steering the way, in both our care for our common home and care for our fellow human beings, we lose the light that shines in the darkest of times. The crisis that we face in our world today reflects the crisis that is taking place in our hearts.
This season of creation has really taught me to look harder into our world and see the beauty in not only a lovely walk along the Foyle but the beauty of our communities. I see it in the migrants who have arrived safely to start their new home with us, in every family and especially in the wounded of our communities. They hold such beauty, made as each of us are, in the image and likeness of God.
We can make physical changes to combat the climate problems but we can also open our hearts to tackle the problems of the things that divide us and strengthen the bonds that socially bind us.
Lizzie Rea, is the Diocesan Youth Coordinator, Diocese of Derry.