Thursday, February 17, 2011

Is Creation my Neighbour?

If we are to obey the golden rule and “love our neighbour as we love ourselves” (Matt 19:19), can we replace “Neighbour” with “Creation” and ‘love creation as we love ourselves?’ What would that look like?
If you live in the city as I do, you don’t have to look very far to see how we have disobeyed this ‘Green rule.’ The larger cities become, the more impersonal relationships become with people, products and even plants. But to people who live in smaller villages, I wonder, are the relationships more personal, are the products greener and the plants healthier? Because I live in a city, I understand that this post is speaking against me, but I think the question is a valid one.
Several years ago, after I graduated from Capilano College with my Special Education certificate, I thought about moving to Smithers to work with friends of mine who work with native youth. As the summer passed, however, a job opened for me in North Vancouver and I was happy to take it and stay close to home. I don’t want to leave North Vancouver, but I wonder, if I was to do so, would I follow the desire I had in 2003 and join my friends up north?
One of the reasons why I loved it up there was the close knit relationship the family I was living with had with creation. They were not environmentalists but they raised their own chickens to lay eggs, grew their own vegetables and allowed their kids to get their hands dirty in doing the same.
With the creation of cities, which seem to be overwhelming our modern culture, our desire to be green has taken a back seat. Only recently have some people decided to take baby steps to reverse this trend, and they are fighting an uphill battle.
Instead of loving creation as we love ourselves, most of us have decided to build more urban sprawl so that creation is no longer our neighbour and we therefore don’t need to do anything about the problem. Now, people who care about creation have to travel far and wide to find it in its truest form. And that doesn’t seem to bother us because we do not love creation as we love ourselves.
As Jesus concluded the story of the Good Samaritan, he asked “who was it who acted neighbourly?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had compassion on him.”
Christ replied “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37)
Nature is currently lying in the middle of the road. Are we crossing over to the other side?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Can Generosity make ends meet?

When I think about generosity, a word which defines as “freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character,” I have a picture of an open hand in my mind. Anyone can take out of that open hand, and anyone can give to it, but nobody, accept the owner of the hand, can close it. If it is closed, nobody can take anything from it, but no one can give to it either.
Journalist, social activist and founder of the Catholic Worker movement Dorothy Day said that the principle of generosity always works. In the words of St. John of the Cross, she writes:
“If we are rushed for time, sow time and we will reap time. Go to church and spend a quiet hour in prayer. You will have more time than ever and your work will get done. Sow time with the poor. Sit and listen to them, give them your time lavishly. You will reap time a hundredfold. Sow kindness and you will reap kindness. Sow love, you will reap love. Where there is no love, if you put love, you will take out love.” (Day)
Hearing stories of people receiving answers to prayer, or even receiving what they did not pray for, have encouraged me to pray dangerously. Some time ago, and several times since then, I prayed, “God, if there is something that I have that I should not have, take it. If I covet certain things more than you, take them. If I am filling myself up with junk, empty me.” I am not sure if this prayer was a true one because of the presence of the conditional word “if.” But the Lord listened to it nonetheless and has answered it.
Since I prayed that prayer last summer, I have moved into a basement suite with no cable, so I am not able to fill my mind and heart with all that the media gives as often as I may want to. I had moved in to join my friend, who lived in a suite where the rent was higher than where I had been staying before. In addition, my principal at work would cut my hours in half when I returned to school a month later, forcing me to rely on the grace, compassion and generosity of others to make ends meet.
Soon after going back to school, I miss-placed my wallet and, for a little while, was resolved to the fact that I would not be able to satisfy myself in certain ways until I found it. Though I found it a week later, I have now tried to make it a practice to keep my spending to a minimum and, as my roommate and I recently practiced praying for our daily routine, I hope to continue to pray for my daily spending so that generosity may be the result.
Can Generosity make ends meet? Well, I’m banking on it!