God speaks to us in many ways. Sometimes, God speaks to us through an e-mail. Recently, this quote from Van Jones popped up in my email and captured my attention: “Everything that is good in the world comes from love, land, and labor.”
Let’s explore each one of these truths. First, love is that universal power that can uplift, heal, and empower us to become our best selves. To appreciate the necessity of love, we need only consider what the absence or loss of love feels like. To feel unloved, abandoned, or rejected is a painful experience. When love is withdrawn or never received, a person’s life can be shrouded in difficulty. But, when love is patiently and unconditionally given, it has the power to bring good into a person’s life. Love is an essential ingredient to our well-being and to our growth as individuals and as a society. Without love, we wither and flounder, but with love, we have the fuel to do good in this world.
The second truth, the goodness of the land, is highlighted in the creation stories in the book of Genesis, where God delights in everything created as being “very good.” It is from the land that so many life-sustaining goods are produced to nourish our bodies. The land holds such beauty and magnificence to treasure. Our Mother Earth blesses us with fauna and flora, rivers and mountains, plants and wildlife, and so much more. The land is not ours for the keeping, but ours to steward, share and preserve. For too many, the land has been and is a commodity for power and abuse, dividing nations and peoples, inflicting unnecessary pain and poverty. The land, however, is sacred, as Native Americans believe and it connects them with the Great Spirit, whom we call God.
The song, Finlandia, speaks to me of the sacredness of the land and how I believe God wants us to embrace the land given to us during our time on this Earth. Click here for these powerful, poignant lyrics that can be our prayer too. Lastly, let me note that the truth of the goodness of the land is seen as an important value by the Dominican Sisters of Peace and is one of the direction statements guiding the congregation’s mission and ministry, which states that “love impels us to treasure and reverence Earth.”
The third truth, the goodness of labor, is important not only in providing economic stability for individuals and families but also in giving our lives’ meaning and purpose. Having something to do helps us feel that we have worth and can contribute something of value to others. When we feel useful, our self-esteem increases and we feel empowered to share our gifts with others and in doing so, hopefully we enhance their lives. Work, thus, can build bridges between people and can serve to improve the life of a community.
As Pope Francis noted in a homily on the vocation of work, “Work makes the human person similar to God, because with work man is a creator, capable of creating, of creating many things.” He asserts in this same homily that our first vocation is to work and that work gives us dignity. Without work, we lose our purpose in life and suffer a restless existence to find our life’s calling.
What is the truth you hold about the goodness of love, land, and labor? What message might God be communicating to you about these three truths? Take some time to reflect and journal on how these truths show up in your life. Think about how God is calling you to see the goodness of love, land, and labor in your life. Perhaps you are being called to community living as a religious sister to bring meaning to these truths in the lives of others. Contact us to start a conversation or better yet, join us for our next Come and See Discernment Retreat, September 23 – 25, 2022 in Akron, Ohio or via Zoom.