Tag Archive: sustainability


berrigan blog(photo credit: chedmyers.org)

(to the Plowshares 8, with love)

by Daniel Berrigan

Some stood up once, and sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.

Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried,

Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in.

Some walked and walked and walked –
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air.

“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?”

“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,”

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

 

Reflecting these past weeks on the life and works of Daniel Berrigan who died 30 April 2016, he is now among that cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that ask us to ask of ourselves: “On what will you spend your life?”. I think it is fair to say that he knew something of endurance, on the cost of that he commented: “I think it’s kind of the price you pay for the bus ride”.

In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey suggests writing your own eulogy – what do you imagine you want to hear said about you by family, friends, colleagues… are you making the choices now… living the life now… that will lead you where you want to go? …that will see you develop and grow up to be the best you can imagine? I don’t imagine Daniel Berrigan did this exercise but I do not doubt he was effective. Why did he live as he did? Make the choices that he did?

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

What will you live for?

What makes your life meaningful will give you a meaningful life.
Do not wait until you are dying to start.

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All the signs, front and back, seem to be indicating this climate change thing is something that anyone and everyone can get behind.  That everyone should get behind.  Action on climate change is a demand for justice for our children, grandchildren and future generations and also, here in this place, I think, a demand for justice for the indigenous people of this land who have lived in tune with and attuned to country since time immemorial.  The traditionally acquired knowledge of our elders, their understanding of the interconnectedness of things, must surely have wisdom to offer and we must humble ourselves to the wilderness that cries out against its bondage to decay.

I imagine a time in the future when talking about flushing potable water sounds like heresy, when running under sprinklers in the summer sounds like a fairytale, a time when a child asks me:  “But if you knew, why didn’t you do anything?”

It is little enough.

Today: “Across the globe, 785,000 people in 175 countries hit the streets at more than 2,300 People’s Climate March events. That’s three quarters of a million people. And in Australia, we came together in record breaking numbers in more than 50 towns and cities right across the country to show the world just how much we care.” (www.peoplesclimate.com.au)

With our bodies, with our feet, outside, we seek to be a face to and give a voice to creation at the UN climate change summit in Paris, to our own government and politicians, to those who don’t believe its real. …that will sound like the start of a joke but it isn’t.

It is little enough.  Too little probably.  The least we can do, certainly.

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Other Lives

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The day before yesterday I sat in the NZ Poetry section of Arty Bees and there were lots of titles I didn’t have a chance to peek into and I thought I’d jot down some of the titles of books I didn’t get to read and use them as a springboard for my own imagination to follow the pathway of poems unread…

Have a crack at using the title of one of these books to write a poem or short story of your own!

Here’s my effort sitting on a park bench in the sunshine round Oriental Parade…

Other Lives

A pigeon and I shared morning tea,
coconut rough and brine of the sea
our feet rest on yellowed moss over stony cement
I think he talked, or perhaps I dreamt
“See these clouds, this sky, the fountain,
the roads, the houses and there a mountain…
these are connected but you cannot see
these must co-exist in harmony
you affect I and I affect you
in the ways that we go and the things that we do
some have plenty and some not a lot,
it seems that we ought to share what we’ve got.
It is clear as the water, firm as the ground
certain as sunrise, at least, I have found.”
“But pigeon,” I ask, “What can we do?”
“Next time,” he answered, “you might buy two…”


Talitha Fraser

Sustainability in Practice

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” (John Muir, 1838-1914)

Definition of sustainability as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission, officially WECD 1983-1987)

Systems:

  1. Parts
  2. Connections
  3. Functions/Purpose
  4. A boundary

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A community of this kind must be (a) consciously choiceful, (b) explicitly committed to and willing to be called to life in the Gospels, (c) open to change through the authentic living-out of its principles, and willing to be challenged to fuller Christian praxis, and (d) prepared to confront the patterns of the Commodity Form – injustice, manipulation, domination, dishonesty, escape – not only as they appear in the culture at large but also as they surface within the group itself.

…The continued intimacy of shared life which is open to new life, however, is one which necessarily entails the suffering of growth and of daily dying to immediate gratification, to the satisfaction of one’s clamoring ego, and to one’s defenses against self-revelation.

~ John F. Kavanaugh, S.J.

‘to love our neighbours as ourselves’ is a common belief across all faiths.

Sometimes feel depressed – actually those are things worth feeling depressed about (global financial crisis, global warming…) We are complicit in an exploitative system.  Fills us with sorrow.  Accept it as a reasonable response and don’t let it incapacitate me.

Joy and sorrow can co-exist.  Sadder the older I get.

Nehemiah – the joy of the Lord is my strength. In the midst of my sorrow need to find a reason for hope/joy.  God is always there.  God brings joy.  Need a spiritual discipline of finding God in sorrow.  In all things God is working for good.  When we find God in a situation we will find good.  Get up everyday and find something I can rejoice in: within myself, in my relationship with my wife, my family, my community…

Action research – look for problems.  Find them. Generate more à become overwhelmed e.g. “what do you see as the problems in our relationship?”, ask your partner that question and you will have found some problems to work on!

Appreciative research – peak experience, best practice.  What do you like about our relationship? Why? How could we do this more often in the future? E.g. what are the best times we’ve had together? What made them good? How could we have them more often?

Dealing with the negative in a more positive framework is more energy-giving.

What is truly there? Something about how it operates that sustains it – start from that.  E.g. people will keep running a programme long beyond when it is sustainable, it must be because there is something in that worth saving.

Positions polarise – close down options into one of two.  Those positions harden and it becomes difficult to see resolution.  Ask “why?” of both sides to draw out fears and desires.  See if there are solutions beyond their positions that meet desires and address fears. Not easy and not quick.  Fear of the process greater than need to change. E.g. building mosque – the side against were concerned about increased traffic flow and parking, Muslim people feared religious intolerance in their community.

Several options that can look like:
–          No existing relationship, no interest in a common goal
–          Committed to action, regardless of how it affects other relationships
–          Relationship so important, need to NOT act. Can’t risk it.
–          Do have a relationship – are interested in resolution (partial/unlimited)

Community with family:

Plan our time together and there are different kinds:
–          Non-negotiable time, this belongs to my wife and family and it cannot be given away
–          Non-negotiable time, give freely to everybody – don’t need to talk about it
–          Negotiable, to family or community

It is easy to give up something that is not important to yourself on behalf of someone else e.g. living without a fridge in India – easy for Dave to commit to but not for his wife àfundamental injustice.  Only sacrifice what is mine, not what belongs to others. Sometimes excruciating to negotiate, ‘worst way of doing it, apart from all the other ways’. Consequences of not negotiating – more painful.  Negotiating is a heavy process. Something that is life-giving for me might also be death-giving t someone else – have to negotiate to a cost. Often these aren’t win:win but rather choose what is life-giving for her this time and hope that it will roll around to my turn next time.  Important to be putting the other person first.

When first started this work it was all or nothing. Gave freely and fully. Became hurt. You can help and resource others without risking anything but you can’t love them.  Need to be willing/able to be vulnerable. I was becoming increasingly hardened. Prayed. God is love.  To reflect God to the world need to show love.  Get hurt along the way and now scared.  Need to ask ourselves: what can we do today to reach out to those around us so if its not reciprocated or appreciated it won’t destroy us?

Want to risk but can’t take the same amount every day.  A given that we will reach out but give ourselves permission to say how much we are able to risk. E.g. could be the difference between jumping in my car to go to work and only waving at my neighbours on the ways past, or walk out the door and seek people out but only talk about what is ‘light, right, nice, polite’ – no capacity to go to the depths, or go up to one person and go deep: “I’m sorry that we aren’t getting on so well, love to shout you a coffee sometime and talk about it…”

Need to monitor our own degrees of vulnerability.  Become bitter if give more than we can give happily.

Sacrificial giving – condemn Pharisees who only give a little themselves and exploit widows.  Exploit our desire to be generous and then guilt-trip is for more. Jesus was willing to die but not every day, most times Jesus ran away – only died once.  No one takes my life from me but I can lie it down. Sacrifice. We will take a stand and get done over, but not every day.

Need to think about our choices in relation to our partners/kids. E.g. if I am away on holiday for 14 days – need to manage myself to be back, present and attentive, on day 15.  Otherwise that is time that I have stolen from my wife and kids.

So many voices, culture, choices in our head driving us – seek out still small voice (role of the Holy Spirit). For myself, get a blank piece of paper and write things down with an arrow beside them

Arrow pointing upwards: things I want to ask God
Arrow pointing downwards: things God tells me
~ this becomes my ‘to do’ list

Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can and the wisdom to know it’s me.

Turning inwards, that job will never be complete.  But others seeing you on the journey might be inspired to become more like you. Teach me the lessons I need to learn so that I can be useful to someone else in the future.

Appreciative inquiry – if actions are oppressing a third party: have to intervene. In some occasions you can avoid/walk away but others you must intervene.

Becoming involved in conflict:

Keep your distance – a) helps situation not to escalate and b) gives you a head start if you need to run. Say something like “hey mate, can I help you something?” address the perpetrator not the victim.  Will think you’re on their side.  Want to protect them from harm themselves. Always frightened and fearful when getting involved.  If fair fight might sometimes keep walking but not if someone is out-numbered or overpowered.

Be gentle on ourselves. Can be our own worst enemy and our own best friend.  Rather than seeking validation from others, seek how God sees me. My needs and ideas are valid too.  Can’t wait for someone else to tell me that.  Desire for acceptance/approval. “The Lucifer effect”

In the context of God’s validation, accept ourselves.

Activist/doing – gets approval.  Hard work of seeking God and being still – becoming aware of our own faults and limitations. Can ‘survive’ and not maintain your soul. What is the bottom line of what you are willing to compromise of your faith/values? E.g. in a concentration camp: some did anything to survive, even kill other jews (had a life, but no soul), others were reformers preaching hope/outspoken, executed quickly (had soul but not their life), third type would not intervene in someone being beaten but would not engage in brutality themselves (both soul and life).

Whether they fire or shoot me  won’t do ….

What is the bottom line of what you are willing to compromise of your faith/values?

The Word of God is written on our hearts not in our hearts.  Our hearts need to be broken for the word to come in.

Spirit is God travelling incognito – us!

The Spirit breathes energy into our tired souls.  Sustaining anonymously until we know we need a breath of fresh air.  It’s when we feel breathless/”’I can’t breathe” – we cry out for fresh air and the Spirit rises to answer.  Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones. Yahweh a wind that comes like a rush of air àrevival of a group of people.  God will breathe within it.  Coming of the Spirit restored that nation, giving strength and resolve to its people.

Jesus told disciples – not the rules and regulations but the Spirit at the heart of his being that gave him energy to be who he was.  They didn’t get it.  Be empty, open, receptive, create a hospitable space in your heart for the Spirit to come.  Disciples spent time in prayer – not rushing around but waiting until the Spirit came. Pentecost came and they were ready, speaking in tongues. I will pour out my spirit on all people. Spirit descends in ‘tongues of fire – takes ‘nobody’ disciples and makes them somebody.  In touch with core passion – who we were created to be in the first place.  Desire to fulfil our potential.  Creates more light than heat – we won’t burn out if we are being true to who God created us to be.  Need to be our true selves authentically in any situation.

Engage with struggle. No one with an unmet need – glimpses of glory in community.  Disciples fought over distribution of resources – sought the power of the Spirit.  Greater collective and individual control.  In Acts – they choose 7 men who are strong in the Spirit.  All agreed to give power to the minority.  Marginalised given authority to have control and manage affairs for themselves ‘today scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’.  Spirit is not only working in us but working in others – no culture, church, tradition where Spirit is not already working.  Go with the flow.  Grieve when it ends and wait for the breath of fresh air to come again. Fruits of the spirit are love, peace, joyfulness, self control… à where the fruit is, that is where the Spirit is already working.  Arrogant to think it arrives with me. Work with a Spirit of forgiveness and compassion, follow the spirit of text rather than the law. Pray “God fill us with the Spirit that was in Jesus” – a spirit of love and justice.  We don’t have a monopoly on the Spirit but we need to be open/receptive to it.

The last Supper by Sieger Köder

– an excerpt from Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore, p.253-54…

Faith is a gift of spirit that allows the soul to remain atteached to its own unfolding.  When faith is soulful, it is always planted in the soil of wonder and questioning.  It isn’t a defensive and anxious holding onto certain objects of belief, because doubt, as its shadow, can be brought into a faith that is fully mature.

Imagine a trust in yourself, or another person, or in life itself, that doesn’t need to be proved or demonstrated, that is able to contain uncertainty.  People sometimes put their trust in a spiritual leader and are terribly betrayed if that person then fails to live up to ideals. But a real trust of faith would be to decide whether to trust someone, knowing that betrayal is inevitable because life and personality are never without shadow.  The vulnerability that faith demands could be matched by an equal trust in oneself, the feeling that one can survive the pain of betrayal.

In soul faith there are always at least two figures – the “believer” and the “disbeliever”.  Questioning thoughts, drifting away temporarily from commitments, constant change in one’s understanding of on’s faith – to the intellect these may appear to be weaknesses but to the soul they are the necessary and creative shadow which actually strengthens faith by filling it out and ridding it of its perfectionism.  Both the angel of belief and the devil of doubt play constructive roles in a full-rounded faith. The third part of the trinity is life in the flesh lived with deep trust.

One of the liturgies that we use at the Seeds table picks up some similar themes so I want to stick it in here so they’re read together –

It would not have been God’s table

On their own, the bread and wine are nothing.
To become a foretaste and a promise
of love made real and a world made whole,
they need a story and a blessing
and a people who believe…

It would not have been God’s table
if they hadn’t all been gathered around it:
the betrayer and the friend
the power-hungry and the justice seeker
the faithful and the fickle.

When Jesus poured the wine, and the bread was broken;
when everyone could eat –
the outcast and the beloved
the arrogant and the gracious
the wrong-doer and the wrongly done by –
the table became a foretaste
of love made real
and of a world made whole.

Your company at the table, [guest],
will include the betrayer and the beloved
the wrong-doer and the wrongly done by.

It would not be God’s table without them.

And the promise is
that when you are together,
when you tell the story and give the blessing
when you break the bread and pour the wine
you will discover a foretaste
of love made real
and of a world made whole.

By Cheryl Lawrie, Uniting Church Australia