Making Peace with it All

Blog by Sr. Jane Belanger, OP

Making Peace seems like an effort.  It appears as if we have to pull opposing forces together and try to get them to shake hands.  It assumes that opposition and even strife are inevitable.  If we want peace, we have to somehow reconcile things—daunting work. And, it is a tough world out there:  survival of the fittest; dog eat dog; loggers vs. spotted owls; clean energy vs. jobs.  Yet that is the kind of binary, either-or, winner-loser thinking that is not at all what the natural world offers us to contemplate.

When we humans use words, we have to break an experience down into little parts to explain what we mean.  When we are in the natural world, our senses experience everything as a whole: sounds and smells, tactile impressions, visions close up and distant all coming into us and we are adding our own selves to the reality.  We are not humans “on” the Earth, we are beings of the Earth.  We owe our in-breath to the plants and they accept the gift of our out-breath for their growth.  We share DNA with every living thing and our bones carry the minerals spewed by the explosions of stars.  Not at some early dawning of creation but here and now.  Whether we realize or acknowledge it, we are inextricably connected to everything.  As John Muir wrote:

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

Muir wasn’t just being poetic; he was being scientific.  It is as true on a molecular level as it is on a biological level, as it is on the spiritual plane—as if those realities were somehow distinct!  One of the results of our Western philosophical heritage is that we are not holistic.  This has influenced our science, education and even our religious thinking to break everything down into its parts and examine them as if each were a distinct and un-related object unto itself.  We miss the deeper—and now scientifically measurable—truth:  it is all connected.

So air and water, soils and plants, mountains and the creatures enfolded in their vast ecosystems are a whole.  They cannot exist in isolation, nor can we exist without them.  Our souls need thunder to realize how small we are.  Our minds need to be expanded beyond our ability to comprehend to glimpse the magnitude of reality.  Our hearts need the tender unfurling of a spring blossom to taste what love wants to express.

If we want to “make peace with the Earth,” it cannot be a part-time diversion from the “real” work of “making a living.”  Besides, we do not make our living, we receive it as a precious gift.  Our living is contingent upon so many other beings.  We are called to be far more than “good stewards of Earth’s resources” as if the splendor of the Universe were somehow a bank account that we must spend wisely.  Let’s turn that thinking around to recognize the oneness of all that is. Let’s be attuned to the sacred revelation that speaks far truer and eloquently than words.  Let’s breathe in the gift of life and breathe out the thanks of our own gifted life.  Water that is sacred will not be wasted or polluted or sold.  Soils teeming with nutrient rich microscopic organisms need not be blasted with deadly chemicals.  Yes, what we do to Earth, we do to ourselves.  We need to love ourselves far better than we may have yet known how to do.  Then we will indeed be at peace—with all that is.



Posted in News, Peace & Justice Blog

13 responses to “Making Peace with it All

  1. I had lost this for awhile. It is true, beautiful and inspirational. I think you have a charism here that hopefully will continue to pour out its wisdom.

  2. Beautifully and poetically put, Jane, and how true. If only we lived as if we believed such truth. Thanks for expressing it so clearly.

  3. Thanks, Jane, for this reflection on the truth of WE ARE ONE and it’s implications for making peace. I hear echoes here of Ivonne Gebara and Longing For Running Water

  4. Jane, Just shortly before I read your blog I had read John Muir’s words about relationality and everything being ‘hitched to everything else in the universe’, in Elizabeth Johnson’s “Creation and the Cross ( p 159)..This is just another example of the interrelationship of all, theology, great thinking…
    A blessed Holy Week and happy Easter to you.
    Peace, Kay

  5. Thank you, Sr. Jane, for such inspiring insight on the oneness of creation, of life, of everything. I will use this peace and justice blog for deep reflection on Earth Day this coming Monday, April 22! Sr. Terry

  6. Thanks, Jane! I needed that, especially as we prepare for Holy Week services, etc., to see the whole picture rather than all those little parts. I know all is connected, but I’m not always aware that it is.

  7. Wow, Jane! Beautifully said and powerfully real! May we indeed learn to live, be, preach this depth of peace!

  8. Jane,
    yes we will. Thank you for the wonderful words which painted such a beautiful vision of what it should be, and can be.

  9. Thank you for writing truth so eloquently and beautifully. I join in prayer that such love and peace will abound.

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