“What drew you to this course?” asks the instructor of my climate change course, offered through Stanford University’s continuing studies program.
Although I gave a quick, polite answer, the real, more complex one has tangled roots in 4th century Ireland. One reason I’ve always been drawn to Celtic spirituality is its emphasis on the sacredness of matter, God’s first and ongoing revelation through creation. Within the radiance of moon, speed of lightning, strength of stone, and clarity of water shine God’s graces. Wells and groves are sacred, “thin places,” where heaven and earth meet in close proximity. To ungratefully tarnish or endanger any of nature, then, insults the divine giver.
I can’t begin to summarize here the writings of so many who have articulated this vision better than I: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, Ilia Delio, John Philip Newell, Barbara Brown Taylor. I can simply continue to read and study, endlessly refreshed and appreciative. Meanwhile, on a small personal note, daily solace during quarantine comes through a walk—along a shoreline or lake, through a forest. The green glimmer of sunlight on water shines through the frame of dark trees. The crisp air exhilarates, the beauty revives. And I wonder, how could we have limited God’s vast presence to the confines of a church?
In the Stanford class, one professor pointed out that if we simply listen to the fear-based diatribes, it will paralyze our creativity to implement wisely the solutions that we already know. Another scientist asked, “why would we use an energy source that’s toxic (fossil fuels), when we could use the clean, free energy of wind, water and sun?” His great-uncle had worked on highway 5, a major artery in CA, when there was little of our current road system. It took a massive effort to build interconnected highways, but a similar national effort could be mounted today. Indeed, it must be, for our own quality of life and the sake of our children. When we see God’s elegance and energy active in our world, how could we NOT work as intelligently as we can to preserve it?