By Max Pohlman
Every civilization has its Great Work to do depending on the circumstances in which it is embedded, according to cultural historian Thomas Berry, and he names our present task as, “moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on Earth to a more benign mode of presence”.
What an appropriate and urgent challenge, contributing to the transition from devastating presence to benign. The Confluence Climate Collaborative took this calling to heart when we organized ourselves to educate about climate change. These Lenten reflections are an effort to contribute to this transition.
On Ash Wednesday, Toni Oplt called us to align with River, lifeblood of the Mother, to reclaim our inner wild nature, to remember who we really are. It is in our human nature to be a benign presence, extending the blessing of our lives to all beings with whom we share our rare and precious planet. May each of us be a current of hope.
During the first week of Lent Lynn Beaumont gently reminded us that we are enough, worthy and whole. We can choose love and goodness and bring it to others. Our enoughness is a gift to our consumer society, a relief to our stretched planet. It is a way to be a benign presence on this lovely Earth. May each of us be a current of hope and sufficiency.
Last week, the second week of Lent, Sally Burgess reminded us that choosing joy, appreciating beauty and expressing humor are also important parts of the transition. Although the statistics concerning the status of our planet are grim – we don’t have to be! We can align ourselves with activist groups like the Sierra Club and have an impact on the devastation to Earth. May we enjoy the ride on our current of hope!
Here is an idea to use throughout this third week of Lent: Think of yourself as transitioning to being a benign presence when you choose a plant-based diet, walk rather than drive, compost your food scraps, reduce, reuse and recycle, advocate for those without a voice. With each behavior you can experience yourself as a benign mode of presence and integral part of this transition. We can be currents of hope all day long!
Also, you may think of the broader context of our lives: the movement toward renewable energy in our country and our world, our greater awareness of how we have mistreated Native Peoples and work to repair that relationship; our expanding consciousness regarding gender; concern for how we manage waste; growing ways to counter the climate and biodiversity crises. Truly this transition has been happening for a long time and will continue into the future with our help.
Here are two final thoughts from Thomas Berry: “We are…thrown into existence with a challenge and a role that is beyond any personal choice. The nobility of our lives, however, depends upon the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned role … Yet, we must believe that those powers that assign our role must in the same act bestow upon us the ability to fulfill this role”.
Lent offers the opportunity to become more deeply a benign presence on our rare and precious planet!
Photo by Lenka Dzurendova on Unsplash