Reverencing the Earth and its Peoples

In the General Chapter 2013 we made the following commitment:
"In the context of Constitutions 36, 'The Sisters have a care for the whole world', we invite each other to be open to the challenges posed by the emerging spiritual and scientific awareness of our role in God's creation.  We confirm our on-going commitment to the care of the earth and responsible use of resources."

The Earth is an awesome place ...

“charged with the grandeur of God”

On Christmas Eve 1968 Apollo 8 passed into the darkness behind the Moon and Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders became the first humans in history to lose sight of Earth, as they orbited the Moon. They looked into the crystal darkness of the universe, “pitted by the faint light of a billion worlds untarnished by atmospheric gases, framed by a lunar surface, unseen since its formation”. Borman described what he saw as “this vast, lonely, forbidding expanse of nothingness”. When they emerged from the Lunar shadow, they saw a crescent Earth rising against the blackness of space. “It was the most beautiful, heart catching sight of my life” said Bill Alders “one that sent a torrent of nostalgia, of sheer homesickness, surging through me. It was the only thing in space that had any colour to it. Everything else was either black or white, but not the Earth ... it was the most beautiful thing there was in all the heavens”. He goes on to say “We’d spent all our time on Earth training about how to study the Moon etc and yet when I looked up and saw the Earth ... a very fragile Earth ... a very delicate Earth, I was immediately overcome by the thought that we’d come all this way to the Moon and yet the most significant thing we’re seeing is our home planet, the Earth”. It was then, with awe that the crew chose to read the Genesis creation story back across the quarter of a million miles to Earth. “We are now approaching lunar ‘sunrise’ and for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. And the Earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said Let there be Light”. A beautiful, never to be forgotten message about our origins and our ongoing desire to understand the mystery behind all that is. Earth is our home, possibly the only living civilisation in the Universe, and therefore to be cherished and nourished. The Apollo 8 crew ended their message “we close with good night, good luck ... and God bless you all, all of you on the good Earth”. The view of the Earth from space changed Anders forever. He said “Earth seen from the Moon is but a speck of dust beyond significance, against the vast scale of the universe ... a universe where there’s billions and billions of galaxies”. “And yet” he continued, “the sight of the Earth came with a force of revelation – a sense that has deepened as the excitement of Apollo faded ... Earthrise was an epiphany in space”.  

Astronaut James Irwin said that “from space the Earth reminds us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got further and further away, it diminished in size. Finally it shrunk to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, loving object looked so fragile, so delicate that if you touched it with your finger it would crumble and fall apart. Seeing this has to change a man, has to make a man appreciate the creation of God and the love of God”. John Glynn, the first astronaut in space said: “To look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is to me impossible. It just strengthens my faith. I wish there were words to describe what it’s like”. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell came near in his description of the awesomeness of what he saw – “suddenly, from behind the rim of the Moon, in long, slow motion movements of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realise that this is Earth ... our home”.

So what are we doing to protect it? To protect our Earth? Our beautiful World?


“Sometimes when we look out today, the world seems so dark” said John O’Donoghue, in spite of all the beauty witnessed by the astronauts.  “War, violence, hunger and misery seem to abound. This makes us anxious and helpless ... and then we feel that there is nothing we can do. When we yield to helplessness” he said “we strengthen the hand of those who would destroy”; those who are not sensitive to life in all its fullness. And yet the world is not decided by action alone. It is decided more by consciousness and spirit; these are the secret sources of all action and behaviour.”  Thich Nhat Hanh responded similarily when he said “what we most need to do is to hear within us the wounds of the Earth crying” and then reach out in positivity and love to every corner of our beautiful, precious Earth ... “the most beautiful thing there is in all the heavens”.                                           2014