Friends, these past several weeks have been busy, intense, full of hard news about the state of the world and good news about the paths of new creation that are being carved out in the midst of these challenging times. That rhythm, that dissonant beat, will be with us now for the foreseeable future – several generations at least. The significance of our time is that we are the generation that must begin to chart the course of new creation, carve the paths to the new ways of life that the planet’s limits and the emerging collapses of the industrial growth model of economics will force on us, willingly or not.
What we choose in this project is to embrace the coming transition willingly. Rather than be passive, resigned, overwhelmed, depressed, we welcome the opportunity to participate in something so fundamental to what it means to be alive, to be conscious beings in this time on this planet, taking responsibility for our role in the Earth’s community of life. We can make the deliberate decision to move away from a destructive culture – destructive of life, of living ecological communities, of human communities, of rich and abundant biodiversity – to a new ecological culture in which we restore our appropriate place in the ecological whole and become partners with Nature, participants in the work of healing, regeneration, and a new human community amid the whole.
As most of you know, right now the CNC is rather humble as an “institution.” We remain “virtual,” without the resources for “place,” a space where we can situate an office, a gathering place for mutual learning and support around the core themes of our work. We wish we had that. We will continue to search for that “space” and for the resources to make it happen.
But despite the lack of a physical location, we/I get out into communities most days, offering presentations, facilitating conversations, getting to know some of the most inspiring “best practices” of grassroots communities. Part of our mission is to help in the vast task of raising consciousness about the ecological crisis, the broken human relationship within Nature that has resulted in so much damage to the planet, seeing what it is in the lifestyles that this culture assumes and presumes as if it can go on forever but which are in reality leading us down a very destructive path. And we work to raise consciousness about the possibilities for moving out of that culture into something new, the next transition for human life within the whole of creation – a transition that is necessary if we are to survive.
Here is a sample of our work since our last post on Sept. 9:
*I have viewed the film, Planetary, with several small community groups, and helped facilitate lively and passionate conversation that always arises from this gorgeous and inspiring view of both the planetary crisis and the wonder and awe of this place that is our home;
*I have traveled to Cleveland to deliver a lecture at John Carroll University in anticipation of the 35th anniversary of the murders of four US missionaries in El Salvador on Dec. 2, 1980, Maura Clark, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan. Cleveland faith-based groups are carrying out a series of programs leading up to the date and this was the first one. As long time co-coordinator, then director of the Religious Task Force on Central America & Mexico in Washington DC (1981-2004), this story formed an overarching narrative (that, and the witness of Archbishop Oscar Romero) for our work as we played a national role in the Central America solidarity movement during those years. The invitation to speak at JCU allowed me the opportunity to revisit this story and to unpack it for our time – what it tells us about how to live within, or how to approach, a time of crisis and upheaval as faithful witnesses to new ways of life in the face of the devastation of the old. It was also a special opportunity to tie together the inescapably interrelated themes of ecological and social justice (can’t have one without the other);
*After returning from Cleveland, I offered a presentation on Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si': On Care for our Common Home, for an event organized by the Catholics for Peace and Justice, located in the Greater Milwaukee area, with support from several faith-based institutional sponsors on a sunny Saturday morning. The turnout was terrific and the passion level high;
* That focus continued as I did three presentations on one day for staff, members and associate members of the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee.
And there’s more: continuing to meet with a group in Middleton WI planning an Oct. 2016 ecology & spirituality retreat day at a monastery near Madison; meeting with the Peace & International Issues Committee of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee to plan the annual Tuesdays in March lecture series which will focus in 2016 on some of the major issues confronting us in the next election cycle; and attending an excellent conference, A Tapestry of Sustainability, at Alverno College.
So these are a few highlights from the past 4 weeks (one of the reasons it’s been hard to post more regularly here). We also continue to be the convener for a small group that meets once a month for “centering” (what we refer to as “centering for new creation”), sitting in silence for 40 minutes, sharing what emerges, sharing food and each other’s company. Groups like these are another way we discover the emerging path of new creation, because it lies in the hearts and longings of each of us.
I also continue meeting with a “new cosmology” book group, another “space” in which we allow our minds and spirits to open to the new revelations of science and spirituality that are collapsing old paradigms that no longer work, as we articulate new ones that do, that arise from what we humans are learning from new cosmological discoveries and the new physics. We have even taken on quantum theory (!!) proving that with a little effort we can all begin to grasp these wonders of how creation actually works.
I wanted to share these CNC activities of the past few weeks because I’m not sure that everyone who visits here is aware of all we do, of what the CNC is. We don’t have a physical “space,” but we have extended community, we grow and are challenged along with many others, and we do a lot of work.
And there is still more. There are the connections we are making beyond Milwaukee and Wisconsin to other activists, especially in the Upper Midwest, to other ecology and spirituality centers around the country, to networks like Sisters of Earth that are part of the ongoing organic collaboration among so many inspired groups and individuals around the country. By way of the internet, those connections extend beyond the U.S. to Canada, England, and more.
Finally, we created a Center for New Creation Facebook page, which now has hundreds of followers. If you are on Facebook, we encourage you to “like” the page to stay in touch with us, and perhaps invite your Facebook friends to do so as well. It has become another vehicle for posting important news as well as inspiration from a variety of sources. Not everyone likes Facebook but, aware of all its faults, we have found it to be an invaluable social media platform for connecting with hundreds of groups that inspire us and among whom we get a sense of the world that is being created from the grassroots all around the world.
More, yes. This week I will be on a panel following another viewing of Planetary at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and this weekend offering a program between Masses at a parish in Menomenee Falls. I will be on a panel for a program at Cardinal Stritch University in November, entitled, Reverencing Creation: Prophetic Voices for Human Dignity. And I will be editing the draft of the book I have written out of the Athabasca River Pilgrimage from Jasper National Park to the tar sands industrial site in Alberta two years ago. I call it my “ecological lamentation.”
Busy? Yes. Is all this work funded? Some, not all. For a student group without a budget, like the group planning the UWM program, I often work for free. With others, we work on a sliding scale. But without the sustained support of a budget funded by donors and a few small grants, we would not be able to do a lot of this work, including the planning work for various events.
We want our supporters and donors to have some idea of what this project is, what it looks like, what it is trying to do, as one source of emergent energy for the new creation we must bring about while there is still time to avert real ecological catastrophe. I will follow up this New Creation News update again next week because there is more to tell.
Our biggest needs right now, why we need your support:
1) we need a new website, seriously! This glorified WordPress blog platform is not powerful or flexible enough for what we want to do – engage a conversation here, an exchange, with other partners making new creation, to start some serious cross-fertilization, especially around integrating the work of ecological and social justice (did I mention that we can’t have one without the other?).
2) we still dream of the physical space where people can gather for some ongoing deep reflection on the meaning of new creation, sharing experiences, wisdom, stories, and visions that can help animate us all into the future. Nothing like it yet exists in this corner of the world.
Once again, our bank account is pretty depleted. We hope some of you reading this might contribute to help us take this project to the next level. Your donations are tax deductible. Visit our DONATION page to contribute via PayPal or by check and mail.
You can also support us by inviting me to do a program in your community. After 24 years in the Central America solidarity movement and 9 years working on the themes of ecology and spirituality, I have a lot of experience gathered up now and am always eager to work with local groups to contribute as I can to the work of education and grassroots empowerment.
Thanks for reading this far. Thanks for sharing the hopes, the dreams, the urgency of New Creation.