‘From the Stars to the Street – A Celebration of Beauty, Wonder and Belonging’ was the theme of a conference on Creation Spirituality, given by Jim Conlon, Director of Sophia Center, Holy Names University, Oakland, California on October 23-24. The conference was sponsored by the Centre for Ecology and Justice of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland and was attended by over one hundred participants.
From the Opening Prayer/Ritual, where we heard the call to acknowledge the presence of God within us, among us and in all creation, to the welcome, where we were challenged by the words of the poet, Mary Oliver ‘Can one be passionate about the just, the ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so…Be ignited, or be gone’, to the Litany of Blessing where we were reminded that we are blessed as custodians of the open table, symbol of creation’s abundant resources, from which no one is ever to be excluded, we heard the same call, to be agents of change, to engage in a more expansive way of living, a more integrated way of being.
Conlon spoke of the effects that a culture of greed, oppression and domination lead to – widespread unemployment, violence, substance abuse and ecological devastation. Yet the message was a call to hope. The brokenheartedness is not about despair but rather the call to break our hearts open so as to become people of compassion, leading to joy in the struggle and faith in the fulfillment. Drawing on the spirituality, the wisdom, the teaching of a number of our great thinkers, mystics, teachers, scientists, Conlon laid out for us a new way of being, a new way of living. The stars tell the great cosmic story; the streets tell our human-based hopes and dreams. He reminded us that we are genetically coded to live as community and that humans have the choice as to what the community will look like; it is all about Story and Dream. He challenged us to become geo-justice people, honoring each other’s gifts and respecting soul life.
The conference concluded with the assurance that we need not be alone as we travel this new way. Journey with:
- women – with their gift of wisdom;
- the indigenous peoples – with their capacity to live close to creation;
- our own tradition – a great resource for the mystical journey; and
- the universe itself – its story reveals the divine.
October 24 was Global Day of Action for Climate Change. Following the conference, participants were invited to Pippy Park of St. John’s to join in an action, the making of a human hourglass, to draw attention to the ‘Climate Change Summit’ scheduled for global leaders in Copenhagen, December 2009.
Jim Conlon, Conference presenter
Sister Maureen O’Keefe, member of Committee for Ecology and Justice