Tag Archive | interconnections

When “We” Is Missing

My thanks to those who commented on my last blog (Make Time to Transition) showing readers’ appreciation for the concept of developing a “we” awareness with all life. 

An essential aspect of ecospirituality is just that: becoming ever more conscious of the sacred interdependence of all creation. Our brains were wired otherwise for centuries, so it takes time and awareness to transition from thinking of everything as separate and in either-or categories that often result in unhappy hierarchies and thinking in us-them, win-lose headings. Our brains have to develop new pathways to become comfortable with the truth that, as Thich Nhat Hahn says, creation actually does more than interrelate; it “interbe” ’s.

Fortunately, this “we” mentality is becoming more common and is fostered by talks, books, articles, organizations, and heartening exchanges such as this one:
“I try to be a ‘we’ in the activities and associations I live with. You know how much I love the sea and, in respecting its purity and dealing with its violence, I have developed a “we” level of respect for it.” 

St. Francis “got” the relationships within existence long ago. Various scientific and religious advances have been nudging us all toward a greater development of a “we” mentality and its resulting active care for all creation. Pope Francis laid the foundation of his first encyclical on Francis’ worldview, and he starts Chapter Four of Laudato Si’ with this paragraph, bolding by me:
“Since everything is closely interrelated, and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis, I suggest that we now consider some elements of an integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions.” (par. 137)

But what about the many examples of lack of respect? Daily news causes real pain to many when it documents absence of respect
. for the unborn, now and future generations;
. for infants and children from causes ranging from separation from parents to lack of clean water, shelter and nourishment;
. for those with whom we disagree or who have perhaps wronged us;
. for the “other,” the less fortunate, for those fleeing war, violence, and climate disasters;
. for air, water, soil, flora and fauna;
. for endangered species;
. for those reporting demonstrable truth;
. for the governed by autocratic or narcissistic leaders in many countries.…

Being disrespectful and belligerent toward people we judge responsible only worsens the situation, because even negative energy affords them energy — and it shows limits to our own sense of “we.” As with the benefits of grieving for extinct or endangered species, perhaps we would profit from grieving the lack of respect that saddens or enrages us.

If you agree that grieving would be helpful, you might want to use or adapt the following ritual. For a 2-sided pdf, contact terrishcj@aol.com.

 Grieving the Absence of “We”

BEGIN: Breathe deeply, grateful for the gift of life-giving air. Remember that we are part of our sacred interconnected creation that has existed for billions of years, and that invisible atoms connect us to everything else in the Universe. No one and no threats can endanger the continuance of the Universe Story in which we are embedded. Be grateful to know, and to be part of, this story.

READ TOGETHER: “Today, in my body I bear the story of the birth and evolution of all creation. My cells are alive with the echoes of the movement from nothingness-into-being. This is the heritage I share with every other created thing, a common ancestry of forces, particles, swirling clouds of matter and stars, unfolded within the activity of the Creator.”    Toni Nash, CSJ

BRING TO MIND the news that disturbs and demonstrates denial of the truth of our unity. Allow yourself time to LAMENT, using a litany something like this one:

I treasure our planet Earth. I grieve the reluctance or refusal to act to limit human-caused climate destruction. I lament the denial or unawareness that we are all interconnected, what we do to others, including our resources, we ultimately do to ourselves. (Pause to feel the pain of this loss.)

I treasure human life. I grieve the attacks upon it by all methods of violence. I lament the denial or unawareness that we are all interconnected, what we do to others, we ultimately do to ourselves. (Pause to feel the pain of this threat.)

I treasure …. 

LISTEN Lyrics for lamentation usually focus on human or species loss. I recommend the following music that we can “feel” without knowing the translation. Skip any ads: 

Ishbel MacAskill, Gradh Geal Mo Chridh, 4.27 min.:



REMEMBER and be grateful for people and groups striving to help us become more aware of our “we”ness with all creation. Use a litany following a pattern something like this:

I give thanks for Deep Time Journey Network [and/or similar groups groups] because they are working for greater awareness of unity.

I give thanks for my prayer group, because discussing unity with them helps me remember that I am part of a sacred global community.

I give thanks for .…

How can I contribute to greater global awareness of “we”ness leading to respect for all creation? 

SHARING, if in a group.

LISTEN TO OR SING any song of hope. Some examples:

Morehouse College – We Shall Overcome – YouTube


Keep Holding On – Avril Lavigne (lyrics) – YouTube


Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles Tribute – YouTube**


** Feel yourself rotating toward the Sun.

City of God dan schutte – YouTube


Mutual hugs and well-wishing might be appropriate!

You ate WHAT?

Pick a food. Let’s say pancakes. Basic ingredients include flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk. You want sustainably sourced and fresh ingredients, yet each component has an ancient history.

Like human life, each of those ingredients dates to the beginning of the Cosmos 13.8 billion years ago, the star-bursts that resulted in our solar system, and the 4.5 billion years since our home planet, Mother Earth, started evolving! Like humans and all life, each has an approximate time frame woven within the story of Earth. Amazing, no? Over the centuries, humans created many religious ceremonies that require, and celebrate, food — both consecrated and not.

Here’s an overview of the stories of pancake ingredients:

Wheat is the result of several grass species that date to about 10,000 B.C.E. – 12,000 years ago. However, plant life first appeared on land between 495 and 443 million years B.C.E. Some research even dates it to about 700 million years ago. As Robin Wall Kimmerer reminds us in Braiding Sweetgrass, “Plants were here first and have had a long time to figure things out. … Not only do they feed themselves, but they make enough to sustain the lives of all the rest of us.”

Baking powder is a dry chemical leavening agent, a mixture of a carbonate or bicarbonate and a weak acid.  Use of modern baking powder began in the mid-nineteenth century, but a sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride solution was used over a thousand years ago in Ancient Egypt.

Salt was in general use long before the beginning of recorded history. The earliest known treatise on pharmacology was published in China around 2700 B.C.E.  All life has evolved to depend on its chemical properties to survive.

Eggs commonly  come from chickens — but some dinosaurs laid eggs, as do ostriches! Whether the egg or the chicken came first will remain a puzzle, as will the certain date of which one was first consumed as food. Chickens were eaten in China about 10,000 years ago, and in Europe in the first century B.C.E. Jungle fowl were domesticated in India by 3200 B.C.E. Records from China and Egypt show that fowl were laying eggs for human consumption around 1400 B.C.E., and there is archaeological evidence for egg consumption dating back to the Neolithic age.

Milk in the U.S. usually comes from cows that trace their beginnings to about 8000 B.C.E. People began drinking milk about 7,500 years ago.

 Recent history

Each of these components is threatened in our times. Among the problems are toxic pesticides and fertilizers, genetically modified crops, factory farmed crops and animals, land and water pollution, climate damages (droughts, floods, fires), mono cropping, and damage from mining.

Yet, even a poisoned and misunderstood Mother Earth tries to feed us, and many Earth-lovers respond by lobbying for better laws to protect her, by purchasing organic and fair trade food, by composting, by trying to save the bees and the butterflies, the soil and the water.

Care might increase if everyone better understood and valued the history of our food, the fact that everything we eat was living before it unknowingly “gave its life” for us, and our complete interdependence and “inter-being” with what we eat. The following poem, by Melissa Studdard, helped me do those three things:

I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast

—After Thich Nhat Hanh

It looked like a pancake,
but it was creation flattened out —
the fist of God on a head of wheat,
milk, the unborn child of an unsuspecting
chicken — all beaten to batter and drizzled into a pan.
I brewed my tea and closed my eyes
while I ate the sun, the air, the rain,
photosynthesis on a plate.
I ate the time it took that chicken
to bear and lay her egg
and the energy it takes a cow to lactate a cup of milk.
I thought of the farmers, the truck drivers,
the grocers, the people who made the bag that stored the wheat,
and my labor over the stove seemed short,
and the pancake tasted good,
and I was thankful.


I (Terri) add a grateful: Amen.

Christmas Star(s)

Star Wars, the ever-popular film series, repeats this truth: ”Every saga has a beginning.”

4557_3596c80a46918e6dde2f3c37290cba47We usually think of Jesus’ beginning as reaching back to David, perhaps back even earlier in human history. That’s all true, but his roots and his story, like ours, go back immensely farther. Since Scripture tells us that he was like us in all things but sin, we share the beginning.

No one knew it when Sacred Scripture was being written, but we now know that homo sapiens, though dating farther back than we’d care to count (c. 200,000 years), is but a blip in Earth’s story. Earth formed roughly 4 1/2-billion-years, though it is impossible to date precisely. During those billions of years, Earth developed the complexity and consciousness and dexterity required for the human species to evolve. Believers rejoice that Divine Mystery was living and acting within it the entire time. In the image here, humans are represented by the tiny red dot after the green tip — and the line would have begun at the shoulder! Wonder-full!

But wait! There’s more — as the ad says.

Cosmos-PictureEarth itself formed after more than 9 billion years of cosmic transformations that began with  what most scientists believe was the first Flaring Forth, however that happened. Stars formed, created new elements, and some ultimately died and exploded, spewing elements into the universe. Our Milky Way resulted from these explosions. After much time, Earth formed, followed by atmosphere, oceans, and continents. Way, way later came humans, music, dancing — Jesus, and each of us. Everything we now know started at the very beginning — a very good place to start, as Julie Andrews assured us in The Sound of Music.*

Stars in the nativity pictures can remind us that that’s where it all began — for the Holy Family and for each of us. Our lineage is indeed ancient! And the light within continues. Here’s how Thomas Merton described it (with no change to his non-inclusive language) :

“I have the immense joy of being a man, a member of a race in which God himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

How might remembering our common origin, the light within, and our interconnectedness with all that exists influence our feelings about, and responses to, some of Earth’s current and pressing “hopes and fears”? Do we appreciate that everything we know came from stardust and “shines like the sun”? Have we grown beyond judging in dualities and stereotypes (e.g., us/them; good/bad; friend/enemy) because we realize our interconnections? Thomas Berry would ask: Do we perceive a collection of objects or a communion of subjects?

While we delight in reflecting on the newborn Babe — and on the Holy Family — during this Christmas season (and throughout the year), let’s also be awed by the fact that we, too, come from stardust. Everyone’s saga begins with the stars.


* Hope you have time to watch this under-5 min. video: Life’s Beginnings Found in Stardust – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rbSYwJJTTU.