The Environment Meditatio held in
Sydney 22-24 April was described as ‘transformative’ by some of the 350 people
who attended. The first Meditatio on the Environment for the WCCM, it brought
together significant speakers from the various disciplines of theology,
philosophy, science and spirituality. It was both a sobering reminder of the
ecological crisis we currently face and at the same time an inspiring call to
opening the event on the Friday evening Fr Laurence suggested that on our
current trajectory the human species could well be engaging in an act of
suicide. He maintained that whilst the earth will endure human beings are
putting both ourselves and countless other species at risk of extinction. Fr
Laurence, together with other speakers, spoke of the ecological tipping point
of the planet and the necessity of a global tipping point of consciousness.
Bishop George Browning gave a vigorous address and encouraged the need to live
out the human vocation to ‘keep the space’ of creation by taking decisive
action for the common good. Meditation as a form of action in and of itself as
well as an interior work to support environmental advocacy and activism was
Saturday the morning began with the powerful sound of the didgeridoo played by
a Walbunga man from the south coast. This sound resonates deeply in the human
body and psyche and suggests that ‘deep calling on deep’ that Miriam Rose Ungunmerr
speaks of in her talk of ‘Dadirri’ (contemplation).
in the morning we were reminded by Aboriginal philosopher Vicki Grieves of the
‘gift’ of aboriginal people and culture to the white people of our land. The
‘pattern thinking’ of these people, as seen in much of their art, offers to us
a consciousness of the connections of all life and a view of the land as
Murphy spoke of the need for something to be ‘roused’ in us such that we would
act towards the other with compassion. She reflected on the human tendency to
quickly move away from that which makes us feel uncomfortable. The practice of
meditation is of course a practice of staying with and attending to the present
moment. A visual ‘lectio’ later in the morning confronted us with images of
profound human wounding of the other than human environment. We were invited to
stay present to those images and notice our own responses. Later we used some
words from Laudate Si for further lectio.
A robust dialogue in the Q&A session
during the afternoon prompted a deeper reflection on the role of the church in
shaping past and present attitudes to the environment. Various speakers
proposed a common view of the culpability of Christianity in the social,
political and technological world view of western civilization that contributes
to the disregard and ‘de-sacralization’ of nature. David Tacy spoke of the
necessity of facing this ‘shadow’ in Christianity. We were reminded however that
human beings are a part of nature rather than being apart from it. The
contemplative consciousness that meditation fosters sees this non-dual reality.
And further conversation recognised that human destructiveness is not located
solely within any one sector of society but is a universal.
Sunday the event hosted a rich feast of workshops for participants to attend.
In the afternoon a panel facilitated by Donna Mulhearn that included some young
activists was engaging and inspiring.
the heart of the conference lay the practice of meditation. Led by Fr Laurence
we embodied the practice of stillness and silence. Ultimately this Meditatio
confirmed and clarified the role of meditation in contributing to the healing
of earth-human relations through a new consciousness. Meditation fosters a
contemplative consciousness for the common good of the whole earth community.
As a practice that bears the fruit of simplicity it may reveal to us both the
need of, and our capacity to live within, limits such that we will secure space
for other life and future generations. As a practice that heals our vision,
that is to say our dualism, it may restore a world-view of life as web of
relatedness whereby we recognize that when we harm a part we harm the whole. As
a practice that returns us to our own centre so, as John Main says, we discover
that we are connected with every centre, the centre that is everywhere. In this
way we learn to live in harmony with the whole of creation.
both a speaker and a participant I left the event with an unequivocal sense of
the significance of the practice of meditation in a world that will be
increasingly and profoundly challenged by climate change with consequent
biological and social disruption. We must grow more fully human; more
consciously loving and life-giving, making space for others on this small,
magnificent garden planet that is held in being within the vastness of the
cosmos. This earth who shelters us, feeds us, inspires us is precious beyond
words. We are her inhabitants. May we also keep her and love her.