James Stewart

James attended the Meditatio conference in Sydney this year.  He has been practicing meditation for the past 10 years and attends his local meditation group at Burleigh Heads.  In 2015 he travelled to Italy for the Mount Olivetto retreat, and he is also a regular participant in ACMC Community Days organised by Gabby Nelson.
Meditation and Eco–theology
James Stewart

Some 20% of King David’s psalms are laudatory, and deeply respectful of the Creation;
Psalm 19 “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.
Psalm 104 “O Lord, how manifold are your works, in wisdom you have made them all; Earth is full of your creatures.

Those ancient psalms begin a line in Judeo- Christian thought that emphasised an awe, wonder and respect for God’s gifts to humanity.  That line continued through Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Creatures” to Tielhard de Chardin S.J., to Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, up to Father Thomas Berry’s “Dream of the Earth”!

So one could say there has certainly always been an eco-theology running through Judeo-Christian teachings.  However, some would claim those teachings were overshadowed by both Augustine and Medieval Fall/Redemption theology.  Raimundo Pannikar’s S.J. “panentheism” (all in God) got lost along the way.

The 2015 encyclical, Laudate Si, concerned with Earth’s ecological crisis, was an attempt to draw humanity to both the duty to care for Earth and all sentient life, and, to the roots of the eco-crisis of these times.

As Earth’s dominant, and at times, the apex predatory species, Homo sapiens are being reawakened, both by messages from the faith traditions and from reports from climate-change science.  Both point to humanity’s stewardship role for Earth and for its fragile life forms.  Earth is hurting.

One line of argument runs that the present ecological crisis mainly stems from humanity forgetting who it is, as just one species, in an interdependent web of life on Earth.  As well, many individuals have been distracted from being their true selves – as spirits having a brief bodily experience.

Who humanity really is, many claim, can be enlightened by Christian meditation.  As a practice, it can help meditators be more fully present to the real Presence, in the “Silence” that, for example, Meister Eckhart O.P. termed “the closest thing to God”.

As well, silent meditation may indirectly lead to regaining a respect for both the gift of life on Earth and for the beautiful Earth itself.  Some claim its daily practice has a potential for deep healing and renewed spiritual awakening.  It also assists on detaching oneself from society’s numerous distractions.  Re-centring oneself in God’s presence constantly, can lead to a more soulful listening, in silence, to the Mystery, being prayerful without words.

To return to the wisdom of Laudate Si, subtitled “On care of our common home”, Pope Francis set out four principles to imbue a renewed Eco-theology;
·         Being mindful that humanity is a growing population species, living on a limited Earth.
·         All societies need to seek justice and integrity for all sentient life on Earth.
·         All need to be aware of how to be part of the solution, not to add to the problems,
·         And that humanity needs to base all it’s decisions on the sacredness of interconnectedness and interdependence of all life and climate systems.

The encyclical suggested some prevailing “distorted” values today.  Those include, a culture of over-consumption, the power of big corporations, disrespectful use of people and animals, and, pursuit of short term profits.

To align humanity with healthy values, many suggest a daily practice of silent meditation.  It can lead to an almost unconscious repositioning of one’s being, to an intention to a more fully entering, of the Sacred Mystery.  Detaching from the relative world of space-time, for a short period, can facilitate entering the Sacred consciousness.  Meditation may assist re-awakening to our true spiritual nature, the deepest dimension of one’s God-given selfhood.`````