Tag Archive | Easter

Ancient Springs

Each year spring breaks through to remind us that Resurrection is the Order of the Universe!  Let us rejoice in that hope!
Mary Southard (author of this post)*



Our world has entered a period of great upheaval.  Economies are in a collision course with ecosystems and life itself. Reports of climate catastrophe, environmental collapse, food and health decline, massive geopolitical and religious instability and violence,. . .confront us daily.

It takes great courage to stay awake and not retreat into denial, fear, despair.  For those who are able to feel the pain and grieve, this crisis, this “dark passage” is an invitation to a deeper and more beautiful reality.  As is true in our individual lives, this is a time for inner growth, a time to tap into The Source—into the deep wells of wisdom and Love we carry within.

Thomas Berry, cultural historian, visionary and prophet puts it beautifully: As we seek to escape from the wasteland about us, we witness these ancient springs once again flowing with cool water capable of sustaining us on the next phase of our journey. Contemplative traditions are renewed, prayer is again a source of wisdom, and the healing power of silence is rediscovered.  As the need for a more mystical relationship with Earth becomes more widespread, education could become an initiation into a wisdom tradition rather than simply an acquisition of factual data.                                     (The Sacred Universe,  p. 64)

An Easter Blessing

May the ancient springs keep flowing with cool water for us in this next stage of our human journey.

May we set aside regular times of stillness and “tune in” to The Holy One present and active in our Sacred Earth and in ourselves.

May we listen deeply and learn again from Earth how to live in balance and harmony as ONE Sacred Community of Life.


 * This guest blog was written by my dear friend, Mary Southard, CSJ, La Grange Park, IL. Mary is an artist, a spiritual director, and one of the founding members of Sisters of Earth. Her art and her life foster care for Earth, celebration of the Universe Story, and ecological Christianity. www.marysouthardart.org/

EASTER AND EARTH DAY: life-death-life


(Luke 24:26)

Lent is transitioning injesus-christ-ressurected-115to Holy Week and Easter — with Earth Day very soon thereafter —    images
a good time to reflect on death and new life within the context of the new creation story. The chaos and seeming hopelessness of Good Friday, and the bitter cold and icy winter many have experienced, will both result in new life. It’s a cosmic pattern.

Cosmic Beginnings

When we think of Jesus’ death bringing him and us all new life, we can remember that the beginning of this death-to-life paradox can be traced back far beyond Scripture. When we start in the very beginning  — “a very good place to start,” as Julie Andrews reminded us —  we arrive at the Flaring images-1Forth (recently confirmed by John Kovac and his colleagues at the South Pole) and the subsequent formation and deaths of stars. It would have seemed unlikely that anything of substance would result from dying stars, but we know that by dying, each generation of them created more complex elements for new worlds and complex life.

Evolution continued for 13.8 billion years, always by way of some beings giving up their independent existence to create something new. Over billions of years, elements became molecules that bonded in ever more complex patterns. Major extinctions on Earth gave space
for new life forms. Created in God’s image, all of nature incarnates God’s generous. lavish, immense pouring out. Dying to live, living to die is an old, old pattern.

Plants and People

dying-seed1Death for life is obvious in plant life: Unless the grain of wheat dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it does die, it will bear much fruit (John 12:24). For a beautiful piece on regeneration of trees by coppicing (a special pruning and cutting technique that dates to the Neolithic period and that allows for continual, healthy wood harvesting from the same trees, often for centuries) see http://ncronline.org/node/73506.

In human growth and development, infancy gives way to adolescence get-attachment.aspxthat gives way to adulthood. Each moment cells die to give space/opportunity for others. David S. Toolan, SJ, writes: We regrow our entire physical body as we do hair and nails. Nothing in our genes was present a year ago. The tissue of our stomach renews itself weekly, the skin is shed monthly, and the liver regenerates every six weeks. Every moment, a portion of the body’s 10[28] atoms is returning to the world outside, and ninety-eight percent of them are replaced annually. It’s automatic!

Chosen deaths

These automatic deaths, of course, were also true for Jesus. But Jesus gave us the ultimate example of chosen self-giving throughout his life.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is nothing else Evangelii-Gaudium-Imagethan the culmination of the way he lived his entire life, Pope Francis reminds us in The Joy of the Gospel. Jesus’ total self-giving so that we might have new life confirmed his participation in the fabric of creation.

Jesus modeled for us how to live lovingly and selflessly for the good of others — with both love and justice. His life and death were obviously unique, but, like him, we who follow his life pattern have both automatic and chosen deaths.

Our Turn

We try to make the conscious deaths with love and joy, no longer, as in the past, for our small selves, for our small family, our small country; but for the salvation and the success of the universe. (Teilhard de Chardin) Aware of our interconnection with all being, we “die” to what we judge holds us (personally and globally) from abundant life – usually selfishness in some form. We can be confident that the Spirit of Life can bring new life both within and without us and all creation. We can be sure that our efforts for justice will bear fruit.

Thomas Merton recognized this principle in all religions: All mature religion must and will talk about the death of anyUnknown notion of a separate, and therefore false, self. Merton suggests we substitute the word “separate” whenever we read “sin” in the Scriptures! Try this when renewing Baptismal promises! (Do we renounce feeling separate from any part of creation, whatever the “ism”?) In Baptism the “separate self” dies so a new, more self-giving and Christlike person can grow and realize its place and responsibilities in the Christian (and unavoidably the cosmic) community.

The certainty of this pattern can give comfort when deaths are not self-chosen: those of loved relatives and friends, of physical and mental abilities, of beloved organizations . . . .

Michael Morwood writes: Everywhere we look we can observe the perpetual rhythm of new life, followed by death, followed by new life. So we do not believe that death is the final end of anything, nor is it for us the start of a journey to somewhere else. Rather, it is a transformation and a continuation of the ebb and flow of existence in ways we do not understand. 


How can we better follow this ancient pattern of death leading to new life in order to become more benevolent members of the Christian and of the Earth communities?

How can we more deeply root ourselves in Jesus’ story and Earth’s story?

How can our choices contribute to the new life of Easter and spring?




April 2014  Nannette Manley: There is so much food for thought in these meditations. I will keep them for future reference. Thank you so much.

Post-Easter Reflection

As the Easter season winds down, I’ve been thinking about the plight of the disciples as they struggled to recognize the risen ChristUnknown during his several appearances to them. I see a parallel with how my concept of Incarnation has changed over the years

Their religious heritage had put a male God in a heaven above, not unlike the way I had thought of “him” in my early years. That heritage had named the Hebrews special above all others, not unlike the way I grew up thinking of Roman Catholics. Their heritage taught them that Revelation was contained in their sacred writings, not unlike the way I had thought Sacred Scripture contained all there was to know about God.

The Pyramid of Creation

The disciples never saw the pyramid I learned in childhood — God on the top (line) the angels (line) humans (line, with unwritten hierarchies within that category: males above females, whites abo ve others, friends above enemies, “us” above “them”) animals (line, with those most resembling humans superior to those less like us) inanimate beings — but their received divisions were just as real.

Jesus had challenged them to transcend dichotomies and hierarchies of Jew and Gentile, male and female, acceptable and unclean, religious authority and common person. Now, in the space of a few days, he asked them to believe that he was present in bread and wine, died, and was alive with them. They had no outside models or authorities to assist them to cope with these mysteries. They had to become authorities!

imagesHow has quantum physics changed your way of thinking?

On the first day of the first quantum physics course I took, the class received topics for our final paper. One read: “How has quantum physics changed your way of thinking?” I noted that the end of the question was missing. Changed my way of thinking about what? “The question is correct as stated,” I was told, and by the end of the course, I began to understand — and my consciousness was, indeed, changed. We might have to deal with things in categories of human making, but the new science shows that edges are “soft”: all being is in communion; everything is interconnected (both in space and time); each has its own uniqueness. (Cf. the Christian Trinity!)

Connection with the Incarnation

I’d long believed that God is everywhere. I’d sought to find God in all things. Now I was called to connect those realities with Incarnation. Within that worldview, I came to see that Creation, Incarnation, Eucharist, and Resurrection were parts of one whole. The Christian Scriptures call us to see God/Jesus in all people. But, since nothing can be isolated from the whole within which it exists, God must be present not just in humans, but also in all creation. The “us” in God-with-us must include every molecule of creation in its interconnected parts.

What does it mean to change your way of thinking?

“Changing my way of thinking” meant losing divisions embedded in my psyche. It meant stretching my conceptions of identity: mine, God’s, others, and how we all interrelate. Jesus retains his humanity/divinity with no diminishment of either. Humans retain their special gifts and responsibilities and “image of God.” But the divine presence is also within all creation’s interconnected, differentiated, precious parts. Each bears, and witnesses to, the divine.

In the beginning was the Word …

With this new consciousness, I re-interpret “In the beginning was the Word. . . and the Word became flesh. . . .” Once I thought it images-2referred to Jesus alone. Now I believe that the Word cannot be separated from the divinity that inhabits and enables creation everywhere at every moment. Nor can Jesus be separated from the forces responsible, with the Spirit, for humanity. Like all human beings, Jesus’ ancestry dates back to stardust. It evolved in ever-ascending complexity through plants, animals, and eventually to conscious beings and homo sapiens. It couldn’t have happened without the life forces (air, water, plants, etc.) that kept creation going.

Este es mi cuerpo …

With this consciousness, I re-interpret “This is my body. . . .” from applying only to Jesus and members of the Mystical Body. For the reasons given above, I believe all Creation can be viewed, mystically, as Christ’s body (panentheism, not pantheism). “By his incarnation [Christ] inserted himself not just into our humanity, but into the universe which supports humanity. The presence of the incarnate word . . . shines at the heart of all things. (Teilhard de Chardin, SJ) Surely it shines in the consecrated host where all creation has been offered and transformed. Here we find the Heart of all reality.

Alleluia to that!

The disciples learned to see Christ in the bread and in the person in the upper room, at Emmaus, and on the beach. I am still learning to see Incarnation not just in Jesus Christ, but in all creation. Theologian Elizabeth Johnson says it this way: “The Creator Spirit dwells at the heart of the natural world, graciously energizing its evolution from within, and drawing the world forward toward an unimaginable future.” Alleluia to that!

Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ