Contemplating Earth – Linking Care for the Earth and Meditation
July 11, 2022
Written by Richard Arnold, Working for Justice Panel Member
Meditation has a long history in the Christian tradition. Jesus himself encouraged disciples to pray in a quiet place. There are many passages in the bible where Jesus leaves the crowds and finds a quiet place.
During the Fourth Century the Desert Fathers and Mothers developed a tradition of meditative prayer. This tradition eventually found its way into Western monasticism.
During the Twentieth Century, pioneers such as Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating and John Main rediscovered Christian meditation. They began to teach it.
The John Main tradition involves saying a mantra during a 20 to 30 minute period of silence. It is recommended that this be done twice each day.
This tradition has now extended into many parts of the world, and is promoted through the World Community for Christian Meditation.
I have been a mediator for more than 25 years. It “grounds” me and somehow enables a deeper relationship with all of God’s creation.
In recent years particular resources have been developed which help link meditation and care for the Earth.
Environmental destruction is not just a physical problem. It is very much a spiritual problem. The late Father Thomas Berry in his book “The Great Work” describes the challenge facing our generation as “moving modern industrial civilisation from its present influence on the Earth to a more benign mode of presence”. This involves unhooking human beings from the ever-spiralling desire to exploit, control and consume.
Meditation is increasingly seen as one of the means of enabling this “unhooking”. Meditation enables people to slow down, to focus less on the demands of the ego, and open people up to a new way of being in relationship with the Cosmos.
You can find some great resources on the website of the World Community for Christian Mediation (WCCM).
Click OUTREACH on the top menu and you will be taken to a number of Meditatio Programmes – click on the Earth Crisis: Climate and Ecology programme (near the bottom). This will reveal a whole range of resources.
There are a number of WCCM talks on Climate Emergency and reflections from the United Nations conference COP 26 which was held in 2021. There is also a video on the international WCCM Meditatio Earth Crisis Forum held on the 18 May (of which I was a participant).
An Earth Crisis Forum is being held on Thursday 14 July at 6.30 pm – details can be found here.
Finally I would like to recommend the online course by Jim Green called Contemplating Earth. This can be done in your own time and explores the ways in which contemplation might be fundamental in enabling us to act wisely and urgently and to live through this current crisis fully, creatively and collectively. The course can be purchased for around AU$ 35 and is well worth the price.
If you would like more information you can contact Richard at firstname.lastname@example.org