In a conversation with a student recently together we wondered if any good could come out of a pandemic. It took a bit of time, but eventually we were able to move past our assessment of this very difficult past year. In so doing, we found ourselves smiling over the goodness almost lost in the cacophony of pandemic chaos.
One of the bright spots we found has to do with the beauty of blossoming spring days. Because of the pandemic, our earth has been able to take a deep breath. The signs of relief are apparent in skylines no longer hidden by smog and toxins, waterways sparkling with freshness and life, and forests exhaling ever more cleansing breaths. The earth has received a moment of reprieve from the abuse that millions of its citizens heaps upon the environment daily.
Soon we will celebrate two days set aside to remind us to be kind to our environment, Earth Day and Arbor Day. These days invite us to change our habits, plant trees, stop wasting natural resources, and wake up to the fact that we can and must change our relationship with our planet. As we prepare for these special April days let us take a moment to ponder how we care for our neighbors and ourselves through caring for creation.
When we honor the gifts that the earth showers upon us, we honor our human family. When we care for, share, and serve as good stewards of those gifts, we engage in charity toward all of humanity and all of creation. Simply put, our own Vincentian vision for the world must include a commitment to caring for creation.
St. Vincent knew that the work of justice was tedious and difficult, but he offered a simple recipe for serving as change agents in the world: “ . . . one must be firm and unchanging with regard to the end but gentle and humble as to the means.”1
In caring for one another by loving the earth and the heavens, our work must include a firm and unchanging commitment that we cannot neglect once we reach the other side of this pandemic. As Vincentians we must make a commitment to be gentle and humble in our walk with creation. We must also remain firm and unchanging in our resolve to continue healing this planet we call home.
Make a plan. What will your gentle and humble walk with our planet mean for you? What kind of commitment can you make to enable the earth to continue healing? How can your Earth Day (April 22) or Arbor Day (April 30) expressions be visible witness to your commitment to caring for creation?
1 Letter 618, To Francois Dufestel, Superior, In Annecy, 20 September 1642, CCD, 2:332.
Reflection by: Rev. Dr. Diane Dardon, D.Min., Director of Religious Diversity and Pastoral Care, Division of Mission and Ministry