Tag Archive | interconnection

Ash Wednesday 2019 Stardust Ritual

If ever we needed reminders of the fact of the interconnection among all existence, as affirmed by cosmology, quantum physics, and other sciences — as well as mystics and saints — it is now, when dualistic thinking is causing havoc. Whole groups are being vilified and artificially separated from the rest: “winners” from “losers”; “good guys” from whoever the judging group happens to be; humans from Earth, our common home with which we share existence. Lent offers a good opportunity to “re-pent” — re-think — these rifts.

image_540_1Everything has come from elements resulting from generations of exploding stars. Our Solar System and everything in it developed from a shimmering cloud of stardust elements like calcium, carbon, and hydrogen resulting from a supernova explosion. Thus we, too, are made of stardust elements. On Ash Wednesday, Christians traditionally receive a cross of ashes on their foreheads to remind them that they are dust. The following ritual is meant to enrich this realization by reminding us that, even before we are dust, we are stardust!

Needed: one candle and a dish of dirt (or glitter, representing stardust). Decide who will read.

Leader: To begin, let us pause to recall past times whenashes_6329cp we have received ashes on our foreheads and heard words like these: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Remember how that influenced your practices during Lent.  

Pause to Reflect.  
Carry those thoughts and graces with you now, but place them in a larger context: the context of the entire universe and its amazing 13.8 billion-year history. After billions of years, thanks to the divine Mystery living and acting in our world and in us, stars formed and died in the process of bringing Earth to existence. We became part of this blessed creation. We are connected to all life; we have a role in this sacred story!

Light candle. 

blastReader One: The massive star that was mother to our Sun met with fiery death, her form completely annihilated by the explosive force of the blast. And yet she exists in each of us, in the cells of our bodies that are composed of her dust. Consciously or not, we carry her within us as surely as we carry the DNA of our biological parents. (Radical Amazement, Judy Cannato)

Reader Two: Our planet Earth was once a dancing star, evolving over four and a half billion years ago from the many elements of [an exploding] supernova. I have loved knowing that we are “made of stardust” . . .  I like knowing that the composition of my body has the elements of a star that was once brilliantly aglow in the universe and is now dancing in me. There’s a magical sense of connection that comes from this knowledge . . . . (The Cosmic Dance, Joyce Rupp)

Reader Three: Dust particles are suspendedimages in the air at all times, unnoticed until sunlight bathes them in radiant streaming light. In this warmth, the specs sparkle. No one who cares about shiny furniture is unaware of what dust can accomplish, just by being. Nothing is insignificant in our universe!

Litany of gratitude:
•  for the Spirit present within the creative process of creation and within each of us, We are grateful.
•  for the generations of supernovas that exploded, resulting in stars with increasingly more of the heavy elements, eventually leading to the supernova that resulted in our solar system and galaxy, We are grateful.
images-5•  for Sister Dirt, because of whom we can enjoy food, flowers, plants, clean air, shade, and revelations of the divine, We are grateful.
•  for farmers who till the soil, especially our local farmers who do it organically using fair trade practices, We are grateful.
•  for those who lobby to prevent mono-cropping, toxic fertilizers, and the use of GMO’s that endanger the earth, We are grateful.
•  for the scientists, theologians, thinkers, writers, speakers and artists who have helped us realize our place in creation — [Pause to quietly remember one or two who have helped you. Name them if you wish], We are grateful.
•  for those present and throughout the world committed to creating a flourishing Earth, including Pope Francis, and for his encyclical Laudato Si’We are grateful.

Jesus, too, was stardust! Jesus, too, died to give new life, as each seed must do. How might we connect the creation  story with our Lent experiences this year? How might our Lent resolutions reflect our call to care for E/earth?

Blessing of soil (or glitter):
May this soil (or glitter), which dates back billions of years images-2and which took over 4 billion years to form on Earth, keep us humble — humus is the Latin for soil. May it remind us of who we are and how vitally we interconnect with the rest of creation. May we trust in divine power working in us for the good of all creation.  Amen.

Individual blessings, using soil (or glitter):
Depending on the number of participants, either divide into pairs, each member blessing the other with soil from the center bowl, or form a circle and pass the bowl of soil, each blessing the person on his or her right.

100_1230Thank you, (name), for bringing your starlight into my life. I bless you and the star-stuff you invest in caring for all of creation. (Add anything you may wish to say at the beginning of our Lenten Journey.)

Extinguish candle. 



Carmel Bracken RSM*, is the author of this guest blog, with Laudato Si’ addition from me. 

Hidden Wholeness 

DSC_5144In the heart of the Civic Centre of San Francisco there is a beautiful fountain which has two quotations etched on it. One quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt is written in a very prominent position and states that ‘The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation …. it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative efforts of the whole world.”

The second quote by John Muir  reads ‘If you try to pick out anything at all in the universe you will find it hitched to everything else.’ This is  written on a slab of stone that is  underneath the water and easy to miss. For me this is very  symbolic, that of the two quotations this was the one placed in a deeper, underwater place. It reminds us that we need to do deep soul work to uncover the hidden wholeness of all of life and that only by living from an awareness of unity consciousness, will we truly know how to co-operate with each other and all of life.

 Essential Unity

Science is now offering us proof of what John Muir intuitively understood and what  the mystics knew for generations, that “at our essence we exist as a unity, a relationship utterly interdependent, the parts affecting the whole at every moment…”

galactic_stairway-wbPope Francis makes this point again and again in Laudato Si’. For one example:
It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be considered in isolation. (par. 138)

How do we embody this wisdom? What are its implications? Mercy Sisters have asked themselves this in their Chapter question “In what ways will we allow our place in the interdependent and interconnected community of all of life to influence us?”

Subtle Activism

11214128_826056660848348_9202236779506786994_nIn trying to live into this question, I found myself exploring the path and potential of subtle activism, which is based on an awareness that “every improvement we make in our  private world improves the world at large for everyone.”   Subtle activism is any “activity of consciousness or spirit, such as prayer, meditation …. intended to support collective healing and social change.” Subtle activism influences social change through the inner or subtle plane, rather than through conventional exterior means like marches, demonstrations, lobbying, etc.

The potential for subtle activism is only beginning to be tapped. As breakthroughs in quantum physics began to reveal “the unified field of universal intelligence at the basis of mind and matter” a number of scientific projects began to explore the effects of intention and meditation.  A study in Washington DC showed there was a decrease in crime for a two month period in which 4,000 people gathered to meditate. Intention experiments —  “a series of scientifically controlled, web-based experiments testing the power of intention to change the physical world” —  have produced extraordinary results. Findhorn experiments showed how “positive thoughts improved  the growth of plants, and Masaru Emoto’s experiments showed how human emotions effect the nature and composition of water.”


Subtle activism does not replace action in the world, it just extends the range of options open to an activist who is awake to a holistic and integral vision of reality where “the subtler, inner dimension of human experience is being reclaimed.” It can be a means of making a contribution to social change for those who no longer have the physical stamina for action in the outer world and for “people of a certain temperament, or who possess certain spiritual gifts.”

Subtle activism is deeply challenging for  it calls us to live from a place of awareness, knowing that “Every thought, action, decision or feeling creates an eddy in the interlocking, inter-balancing, ever-moving energy fields of life, leaving a permanent record for all of time….” Subtle activism is not about telling others what to do, but a call to embody whatever quality we wish to see in the world, to “be whatever it is we ‘send’ out.” This is implicit in Ghandi’s call to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

1 Lynn McTaggart, The Bond
2 David Hawkins, Power Versus Force
3 Gaiafield project
4 John Hagelin
5 Robert Moss
6 David Nicol
7 David Spangler
8 David Hawkins, Power Versus Force
9 David Spangler

MIA20_4_Workshop1_ss *Carmel Bracken is a member of the Irish Congregation of Sisters of Mercy, Northern Province. A member of their Mercy Global Action Network (MGAN), Carmel received an MA in Culture and Spirituality in Sophia Center in Oakland, California. She has inspired me with her writings and presentations, and I am grateful for this blog.


MTE1ODA0OTcyMDMzNTQxNjQ1In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis presents “an educational challenge” (par. 209) that requires “educators capable of developing an ethics of ecology, and helping people, through effective pedagogy, to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care.” (par. 210)

The goal of this education is described throughout the Encyclical. For example:

– “awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone.” This basic awareness, he predicts, “would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life.” (par. 202)

– “It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be  considered in isolation.” (par. 138)

What follows is a model of such a program. I am indebted to orla_w_cosmic_story_and_earthDr. Orla OReilly Hazra, PhD, and to her students, for the following information and quotes.

Offering an Integrated Cosmic Vision

Orla and Prashant Olalekar, PhD, S.J. co-taught an honors course titled “Be the Dream: Awaken to Cosmic Compassion” at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. (For information about the course, see
IGNATIAN PEDAGOGY in an Evolutionary Universe: Report on Honours Course, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, India)

Their students included the age group of 18-22, a variety of academic majors, and an even wider range of faith traditions, plus two teachers. These students learned the story of our 13.8 billion-year-old Universe. They absorbed the reality that our bodies and the bodies of all we see around us are part of everything that emerged from this evolution. The Universe Story — unknown for so long — conveys the wonder and awe that overwhelms many scientists as they face the stupendous creative power animating our journey together.

bighistoryunits The big history of our lives was outlined through its 8 threshold moments: big bang, formation of galaxies, elements, solar system, life, humans, agricultural era, industrial era (and end of Cenozoic era from which we emerged) — and now our emerging 9th moment – the ‘ecozoic era’.

With this solid foundation, these students proved that “if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously.” (par. 11)


The following quotes show that these students, confirmed in their place in the Universe Story, accept their responsibility for co-creating and fostering the flourishing for all. Their common response after listening to and meditating on their integral origin story was one of deep awe, wonder and reverence. Their journal entries reveal that they are now able to see their bodies and themselves and all around them as part of an integral co-creative process:

“We are such an amazing and significant part of this universe, evolving together with all species and forces of nature. I am mother earth and mother earth is me. Knowing about this cosmos has been the first step towards unraveling the purpose of my life. Having understood this, I wonder, won’t it solve our issues of inequality for we are cutting down separation/discrimination from its basic root” (Shweta)2224010451

The Big Bang theory has never affected me the way it did today. We are all interrelated, we have emerged from the same stars. Thus my view has changed dramatically when it comes to looking at the problems of the world. The meditation did help us to delve deeper. I did notice that I should listen to myself and nature even more.” (Renisha)

“The immediate change on the surface level is to become sustainable: reduce use of plastics, eliminate shopping cravings, make homemade food and beauty products, a deep acknowledgement and compassion for my skin, my organs, my body that has been supporting me … maybe ever since 13.8 billion years … at moments like these I realize that I cannot continue my speech of ‘them’ and ‘us’ because we really are one, and we need to fight not only for the marginalized but also for Mother Earth. If I sit cross legged [in Indian meditation prayer] and decide that there is nothing I can do for Mother Earth, whose metals, atoms, chemicals are that which sustain and have made me, isn’t it rather a bit selfish and foolish to be doing?” (Kala)

Ecological Conversion

Awareness of the integral existence of the Mystery in all things is the metanoia necessary. We currently struggle with a mindset that denies, rejects, or is simply unaware of our unity with all creation. As stated by Bernard Lonergan, SJ: “How indeed, is a mind to become conscious of its own bias when that bias springs from a communal flight from understanding and is supported by the whole texture of a civilization? (Lonergan, 1958, xv)

Healing the dualist mindset bias which is causing the problems in the first place is essential for the education advocated by Pope Francis. As ecotheologian Diarmuid O’Murchu rightly points out: “Reconnecting with the Earth – with the whole Earth — is the single greatest challenge now facing us as a human species.” Our primary context of the Cosmos is the basis of any ‘religious’ story and is the commons from which we all emerged.

The course described here, and experiences like it in schools, families, parishes, religious congregations, and organizations of all types, prove that from understanding our common heritage and common ground, a common reverence and responsible action can emerge globally — and with joy!

Call for More Examples

Please add, in comments, other examples of ways parents, teachers, authors and artists are enabling others to place our lives and our religious stories within the unity of all creation.