Water is the 2018 commitment for the Province of Mid-North America. Sisters chose 2018 to be the “Year of Water” at our Assembly last October. We would like to invite all readers of our website to join with us in this commitment.
We chose to commit ourselves personally and as a community to a greater awareness of the gift of water. We will strive to conserve water and be open to finding ways to prevent pollution of this precious gift. The province team Eco-Zeal for Mission gives us some ideas to prime the pump:
- Pray in gratitude for water and for wisdom as you use water each day;
- Shorten showers; use water-saving shower heads and water faucets; avoid buying water in plastic bottles;
- Capture rain water runoff in rain barrels or large pots to use on garden and house plants;
- Study your utility bill and see what it reveals about your water usage each month;
- Think about and incorporate into your daily routine creative ways for reducing water consumption;
- Consider donating money that you save by conserving water to some of our mission areas that don’t have access to clean water; your donations could help them build systems to obtain fresh water.
Water: Sacred and Wounded
After deciding at Assembly that we would make water a province commitment, we sent a prayer that was focused on water to all of the Sisters. Our slogan is Water: Sacred and Wounded. The prayer included time for discussion about ways we can conserve water in our personal and communal lives. A Sister asked the question, “What help is my little pittance?” In response, we offer the following:
In Laudato Si Pope Francis calls us to conversion – conversion of our world view and conversion to a sustainable lifestyle. We are called to see creation in a different way, a way that reverences life, and the Source of life. This change of thinking has scientific, sociological, ecological, economic and cultural implications.
At the heart of it all are the dimensions of spirituality and ethics.
Pope Francis offers a spiritual dimension to care of creation in his encyclical Laudato Si. He writes, “Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. The entire universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection. Soil, water, mountains, everything is, as it were, a caress of God.” (84) “
Misuse of God’s gift to us
Pope Francis tells us that Earth is not merely a source of raw materials for consumption, but a sacred icon of God’s beauty which moves us to awe and contemplation.
On the one hand, we humans love the beauty of Earth. On the other hand, we carry within us the stance that Earth is abundant in resources that belong to us and us alone to use as we will.
Each action to save water can be a prayer
We are called to face the fact that we have misused what we have been given. Our misuse has led to a destructiveness that Pope Francis vividly describes in Laudato Si: “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her in our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her… earth, herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.” (2)
Pope Francis asks us to take notice, stating in his encyclical, “We all know that it is not possible to sustain the present level of consumption in developed countries and wealthier sectors of society.” (27)
There are countless stories of creation’s resources running out. We all know them. For example, the water crisis effects the gardens that women plant in Guatemala to feed their families. The families can no longer live sustainably because the combination of drought and extreme weather has wrought havoc on their ability to farm.
The water crisis adds extreme hardship on women and children in Africa who spend 40 billion hours annually collecting water. While taking on this backbreaking effort, they’re also subjected to harassment and sexual assault along the way in unprotected areas. Stories like these fill the news.
Bringing us into deeper solidarity
So, how do we take Earth’s reality into our hearts and take action in our daily lives? Maybe our first step is to simply realize that every single one of us can take at least one small action to conserve water. Even the smallest act can bring us into deeper solidarity with those in need. And that is the heart of our Good Shepherd charism.
Every decision to save water in small ways moves us toward living more sustainable lives. And each action to save water can be a prayer. Our decisions and actions offer example to others. They open us and reveal other ways in which we can reach beyond our comfort zone and privileged first-world lifestyle.
We are made different by our actions, and we begin to see things in a new way.
We are made different by our actions, and we begin to see things in a new way. As Saint Thérèse of Lisieux showed throughout her lifetime, a pittance has ultimate value.
Let us together be grateful for God’s wonderful gift of sacred water, and let us find ways to heal its wounds and protect it.
Story written by Sisters Virginia Gordon and Sharon O’Grady, members of the team Eco-Zeal for Mission for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America.