On Saturday 12th March fourteen Sisters met at Kings Cross for further discussion and reflection on the issues raised by Nellie McLaughlin RSM at the “Is Mercy Sustainable?” day held in September 2010. Nellie inspired us to wonder at creation and reminded us of our interdependence with all of creation and the responsibility that entails.
To begin the day we were asked to reflect on what has stayed with us from the day given by Nellie. The major theme emerging was one of wonder at the intricacies of nature, how rich and beautiful the world God created is and the interdependence and part we, as humans, play within the creative order.
Sr. Mary Horan related a story to us from her time in Bradford, which illustrates how we are all part of that one created world. A neighbour asked if she had noticed the new neighbours who had recently moved in. Looking around, no unfamiliar faces could be seen. He suggested she look in her back yard – no sign of anyone or tents or housing. The neighbour then pointed to a small tree in the yard, and on its branches were indeed two new “neighbours”. But do we recognise all of creation as neighbours and treat it as we should treat neighbours?
We were reminded of how God created our world with enough and more than enough to sustain all life. This was illustrated by an exercise cutting up an apple. 1/32nd of an apple is enough to sustain all life on planet earth. The layer of skin on this piece of apple represents the topsoil available to nourish life. This topsoil however is being lost through deforestation and construction of buildings. God created an abundant world for his creation but, as Nellie informed us, 16 out of 25 of the support systems of the world are seriously under threat.
A powerful presentation, “The story of Stuff”, was shown which graphically illustrated how the world’s resources are being plundered and misused by a few but to the detriment of many. It challenged us to think of what is the true cost, both to the environment and to humans, of many of the products we take for granted. For example, many people are unable to continue living centuries-old ways of life because of deforestation and urbanisation. They then migrate to cities to work in factories for poor wages, making products that are exported (clothing, electrical appliances etc.). After a short time these products become obsolete and are then considered waste that is then dumped creating further damage to our world.
Our chapter focus (or directional statement) challenges us to live reflectively, reverence the earth and its peoples and engage creatively with the needs of our time both locally and globally. We reflected on how we were living this out in our realities both personally and as community. How are we “Sustaining Mercy”?
Recycling is a way to reverence the earth that is common practice but there are many other ways we can reverence the earth and its peoples. In four groups we reflected on issues about: food, fairtrade, packaging and renewing/replacing furnishings and equipment. Here are some of the thoughts and suggestions that emerged.
Would you be prepared to take off the extra, surplus packaging from products and leave them in the shop to make a point about unnecessary packaging?
When shopping buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables and even bring your own paper/plastic bags with you.
Fairtrade items may seem more expensive than other products. It is the true price of the product. The growers of non fairtrade products often work for less than a just wage, that’s why the product can be sold more cheaply.
Think about where your food comes from. How far has it travelled? What preservatives have gone into it to keep it fresh? Do you buy locally grown produce?
Do you take care of things to ensure they last as long as possible? When replacing items what are your considerations? Do you make do and mend? Do you recycle and re-use?
Thank you to the Kings Cross community who provided wonderful hospitality which included the re-cycling of the apples used into a wonderful apple cake!
The day was both reflective and challenging. God has created a beautiful world and we are part of that creation, not stewards, but part of. May we continue to “Sustain Mercy” in whatever way we can and as the opening prayer for the day said,
God our Father, show us
how to step gently,
how to live simply,
how to walk lightly
with respect and love for all that you have made.