Tag Archives: guest post

Nudged by the late afternoon sun

A friend of Care of Creation is fulfilling the dream of a lifetime – traveling across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  He recently posted this brief, powerful observation.

The late afternoon sun is warming the day’s cool breeze brought by the morning clouds. As the tra
in clickety-clacks on it’s way to Ulaanbataar, my eyes draw me out the window to a surprising sparkle and glistening as the country side rolls by. At first I wonder. Does no one else see this sparkling treasure? Surely if the train would stop we’d all rush to get our share! Continue reading

The Examen and the Earth

Guest post by Lowell Bliss.

This bench looks like the perfect spot for an examen, a prayerful review of one’s conscience and day. CC Licensed photo.

The Lenten season has come and gone, but the ancient spiritual practice of Examen is certainly not limited to a specific forty days of the liturgical year.  There is great health, we are taught, in regularly lifting our consciences up to the Holy Spirit with the prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;” (Ps 139:23).

Recently I’ve encountered two proposals for The Examen which involve an ecological twist.  The first is in a book, The Light is On For You, by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.  The book is a heartfelt appeal for Catholics to re-embrace the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the sweet freedom of absolution received in “going to confession.” Appendix D is a longer, quite systematic, examination of conscience and has been formulated anew by U.S. bishops.  Cardinal Wuerl also includes a section for “Examination of Conscience based on Catholic Social Teaching.”  Among questions derived from “Life and Dignity of the Human Person” or “Option for the Poor and Vulnerable” are these four suggested questions for “Care of God’s Creation:”

  • Do I live out my responsibility to care for God’s creation?
  • Do I see my care for creation as connected to my concern for poor persons, who are most at risk from environmental problems?
  • Do I litter?  Live wastefully? Use energy too freely?  Are there ways I could reduce consumption in my life?
  • Are there ways I could change my daily practices and those of my family, school, workplace, or community to better conserve the earth’s resources for future generation?

St. Ignatius Loyola is perhaps most associated with the Examen as a discipline, and in the Ignatian Exercises, examen is more than just documentary prep work for a visit to the confessional.  Jesuit writers speak of it as “a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It’s actually an attitude more than a method, a time set aside for thankful reflection on where God is in your everyday life.”  Jim Manney in A Simple Life-Changing Prayer has formulated these modern five-steps:

  1. Ask God for light: I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
  2. Give thanks: The day I have just lived is a gift from God.  Be grateful for it.
  3. Review the day: I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
  4. Face your shortcomings: I face up to what is wrong—in my life and in me.
  5. Look toward the day to come: I ask where I need God in the day to come.

And then here is how Joseph Carver S.J. has brought this exercise to bear on creation care:

  • All creation reflects the beauty and blessing of God’s image. Where was I most aware of this today?
  • Can I identify and pinpoint how I made a conscious effort to care for God’s creation during this day?
  • What challenges or joys do I experience as I recall my care for creation?
  • How can I repair breaks in my relationship with creation, in my unspoken sense of superiority?
  • As I imagine tomorrow, I ask for the grace to see the Incarnate Christ in the dynamic interconnections of all Creation.
What have I planted and watered today?  CC Licensed photo.
What have I planted and watered today? CC Licensed photo.

While this blog post is reproducing list, here’s one final one of my own: “What I, as an evangelical Protestant, like about this discovery of not one, but two, ecologically oriented examens:

  1. I like that creation care can be more than just a part of my ministry (and certainly more than just of my hobbies).  I like that creation care can touch upon my spirituality, my walk with God.
  2. I like that creation care can be more than just a part of my ministry (and certainly more than just of my hobbies). I like that creation care can touch upon my spirituality, my walk with God.
  3. I like that violations of creation care are taken seriously enough to rise to the level of sin requiring confession and transformed lifestyle.
  4. I like that a Christian of Cardinal Wuerl’s stature has adopted the language of creation care. We are singing the same tune in the same key, even using the same words.
  5. It makes me excited for Pope Francis’s upcoming encyclical on the care of creation, due to be issued in June or July.

Lowell Bliss is the director of Eden Vigil and the author of Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees. He lives with his wife Robynn and three kids.

So what is an “Environmental Missionary” anyway?

Originally posted June 25, 2010.  Check out Lowell’s NEW book called “Environmental Missions” and let us know what you think!

 Lowell recently wrote the following piece for the Evangelicals for Social Action newsletter, answering the question, What do we mean by “Environmental Missionary”.  Enjoy!

What Is an Environmental Missionary?

At first, the question remained the same, but my answer would change.
People asked me, “Lowell, why are you a missionary?” Before I left for India in 1993, I’d tell them my conviction that Jesus is worthy of the worship of India, that the Great Commission is a mandate given to us all, and that those who die without Christ are lost eternally. But then after just a few months on the field, while those central convictions had not changed, I added to my answer, “I love Indians.” Over time, however, I had to change that answer, too, and admit, “Well, I don’t know if I can say that I love Indians, but I do love Shivraj, Munnu-ji, Prakash, and Prem Kumar.” I would rattle off names of individual friends. It’s hard to love disembodied aggregates, but it’s impossible not to love those God has placed in your heart.
Now, however, the question has changed. People are curious: “Lowell, why do you call yourself an environmental missionary?” The question has changed, but the answer is remarkably the same: I love Shivraj, Munnu-ji, Prakash, and Prem Kumar. Continue reading

“Be Fruitful and Multiply–Everybody

This is a cross-posting from our good friends and fellow creation care laborers at the A Rocha USA blog.  

By Tom Rowley, A Rocha USA Executive Director

American bison. CC License.

Last Wednesday, PBS launched a terrific new television series: EARTH A New Wild. Done in collaboration with Conservation International and Nature Conservancy (both of whom have partnered with A Rocha in the USA and abroad), the show focuses on the inextricable link between humans and nature. We are part of nature. We are mutually dependent. And neglect of one hurts the other.

All of which is a bit Continue reading

Backpacking and the Easy Yoke of Christ

by Lowell Bliss.  This is the second in a series of articles that grew out of Lowell’s trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this past October.  Click HERE to read part one.

A view of the Rockies. Photo by Brittany Ederer

A spiritual director recently advised me to identify my longings. After only a couple of days of prayerful reflection I thought I knew: I wanted to work for Jesus and make a contribution to the world (particularly in creation care and environmental missions), but in doing so, I didn’t want to be responsible for the world. I wanted to work restfully. In other words, I had a longing for the easy yoke of Christ.

The first step, it seemed to me, in pursuing my longings was to memorize Matthew 11:28-30. After that, I could pray through the passage regularly, leisurely, and intimately which I did so thusly:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,

Jesus, I come. And I certainly qualify because I am weary and burdened. Continue reading

Sun Worship in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park, courtesy of Lowell Bliss
Rocky Mountain National Park, courtesy of Lowell Bliss

Lowell Bliss’ monthly post.

For seven of the years my family and I lived in Varanasi, India, we resided in a house right on the western banks of the Ganges River.  From our rooftop first thing in the morning, we could look down on the riverfront and witness hundreds, sometimes thousands, of Hindu worshippers bathing in the Ganges.  At some point, they would cup their hands, draw up some water and then pour it in libation to the east from where the sun was rising.  They were in fact worshipping the sun.  I was a good enough cultural anthropologist to know why: the sun is a powerful luminary; it governs so much of life and health.  Studying Hinduism was not my first exposure to sun worship, neither was studying Continue reading