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Reflections

Caring for Earth, Caring for You—Sr. Barbara Green, OP

Caring for Earth, Caring for You—Sr. Barbara Green, OP

For Sr. Barbara Green, OP a great definition of integral ecology is “God’s dreaming about creation, about everything that is.” According to Sr. Barbara, a scripture scholar and theologian, “Our challenge is to find ourselves in that dream, realizing that our place may well look different than from what we had previously imagined.”

Sr. Barbara suggests that in the process of discovering our place among all God’s creatures as we engage carefully and respectfully, we might learn something fresh. “For example, as we think of trees—acknowledging that they seem simply to ‘be there,’ not very active in any way we can see. But look again. Trees’ leaves often come and go, and we have recently learned about the activity of tree roots in communication. What can they teach us?  Trees are now known to be more empathetic than we humans had supposed, as animals are more articulate than we previously understood, listening to their sounds which don’t make sense to us.”

It’s no doubt that Sr. Barbara has an affinity for all God’s creatures. When she’s not studying the wisdom of the trees, she might be found tending—and learning from—God’s honey bees that live on the Dominican Convent property. “Bees are the opposite of trees as their lives are clearly full of activity. Bees live communally and collaborate with each other. Their lives are short, yet their contributions to their fellows and to all of us who eat are great. “Our challenge is to become wise about what we might learn from our own span on earth. Once we can appreciate the fragility of many of Earth’s living beings, we may be able to act more helpfully to support those. Trees and bees are in jeopardy, and there are ways we can act to slow the harm.”

Sr. Barbara astutely notes that with integral ecology “we focus on what connects us rather than what makes us different. It can be insightful to think about ways we can partner rather than be hierarchical, with our human selves at the top of a pyramid.  In some ways, we are very clever, but we have lots to learn and appreciate by respecting others as well.”

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Preachers of  Truth • Love • Justice