There is a time in the afternoon when the sunshine reaches our kitchen bench, which I always thought was clean. It shows all the dust, crumbs and smudges from the last person cleaning it. If I am at home and see it, I pick up spray and a cleaning cloth and try to clean it better, but quite often the surface stays the way it is – unnoticed – until someone feels that there is something sticky or dirty and cleans it.
The image which I just described always makes me think – how many things do we do thoroughly, how many things just on the surface, and how many things need to be done better.
My kitchen bench was the first thing I thought of when I thought of Laudato Si – Care of our common home – the document written by Pope Francis already six years ago.
Just a quick look through the document names not only the “imperfections” in the ways we look after our planet but in a bold and brave way names the problems which our common home – Planet Earth – faces today.
Pope Francis starts his document with an environmental assessment. He says:
If we approach nature and the environment without…openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. (#11)
Many points raised by the Pope in his document resonate very clearly with the actions undertaken by worldwide agencies and by people who made the protection of our planet a priority in their life mission.
But what really amazes me is the Pope’s view on Integral Ecology. What he sees is that:
The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation. In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet… The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor. (#48)
Hearing these words of Pope Francis gives me a new light and brings my awareness and attention to see more than the call to ecological awareness and conversion. It is simply following what Pope’s “suggestions for an ecological spirituality grounded in the convictions of our faith, since the teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences for our way of thinking, feeling and living.” (#216)
What if the sixth anniversary of Laudato Si became for all of us the time of actions – big and small, in our own backyards and relationships.
You and I can make a difference, a difference which can start from cleaning our symbolic “kitchen bench”.
What if we start living the ecological spirituality to which Pope Francis encourages us?
I believe that this “what if” can change “our common home”.
Sr Grace Roclawska csfn is the Program and Engagement Representative at the Institute for Mission and a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth.