Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Care for Creation (C4C) Garden Flourishing!

On a humid, Central Pennsylvania afternoon in June, myself, two recently professed novices from the community (Matthew and Christopher), and four other gardeners spent time weeding the newly launched community vegetable and flower garden. The gardens are growing beautifully! Thanks to an "embarrassment of riches" with regard to enthusiasm, energy, and expertise (we have four or five master gardeners helping us!) the Care for Creation Initiative is flourishing! You may ask yourself what the term care for creation refers to. The way that I would begin defining the phrase is to compare it with another concept that has emerged in the Catholic Social teaching tradition of the last twenty years or so concerning the environment (mainly promulgated by Pope John Paul II) entitled, "preserving the integrity of creation." The latter phrase connotes perhaps the most popular Christian and Catholic approach to how we are called to relate to creation, namely as "stewards." The concept implies that we are to live on the earth in such a manner that the "strands" (i.e., species, "bioregions", and "ecosystems") which make up the "web of life" (i.e., all the systems of life considered in relationship to one another) are strengthened. Care for Creation also implies preserving the integrity of creation but goes further. It implies a disposition and orientation of care, compassion, and concern for all of earth's creatures, great and small. The notion is a very Franciscan one in that it has it's roots in the regard that Francis showed to all creatures, referring to them as "sister" and "brother." In other words, in addition to being stewards who are called to strengthen the strands of the web of life, we are also called to value each creature for its own sake and for the manner that it reveals God's abiding love, beauty, and truth. You might say that while "preserving the integrity of creation" focuses on the "forest", the concept of "care for creation" urges us to not lose sight of the trees! Two great Franciscans of the 13th and 14th century, St. Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus carried this tradition of caring for creation on through their theology of creation. St. Bonaventure referred to creation as a "book" and "mirror" which reflects God's Triune presence in our midst. Bl. John Duns Scotus wrote of the need to consider a creature's intrinsic worth as an important step in reverencing the creation entrusted to us by God. As a Franciscan community we hope to carry on this legacy of caring for creation by responding to the signs of the times concerning climate change. Our Care for Creation initiative is one concrete way in which we are doing so. We welcome your thoughts on this ministry and your suggestions on how we can better "care for creation."