Being Green

Judging a Book by Its Cover: “What the Death of a Friend Revealed”
February 8, 2019
Sister M. Aloise Paluszak, OSF
February 26, 2019
Judging a Book by Its Cover: “What the Death of a Friend Revealed”
February 8, 2019
Sister M. Aloise Paluszak, OSF
February 26, 2019

By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF 

“A frog does not drink up the pond it lives in.”                                                

(Proverb, variously attributed to Peru, Native Americans and China)

Special elections usually get little attention.

That’s not the case with Toledo’s special election coming up next Tuesday. There are two hot issues on the ballot – the site for a new jail and a bill of rights for Lake Erie. Both have stirred up a bit of controversy; the Lake Erie Bill of Rights has even received some national attention.

While the initiative seeks to ensure the “right to a healthy environment for the residents of Toledo,” it also seeks to establish “irrevocable rights for the Lake Erie ecosystem to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.” Everyone would agree that a healthy lake would be advantageous for residents of northwest Ohio. The idea that a lake could – or should – have the same rights as a person is a little more difficult to swallow, for some.

As a Catholic and as a Franciscan, I can see some principles of our faith that would lean in that direction. In the Genesis story, God gives us dominion over the Earth, to cultivate and protect it. In their 2001 document, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, the US Catholic Bishops stress that our response to climate change is not just about economics or politics; fundamentally, it’s about the future of the gift of God’s creation. We have a responsibility for protecting both the human environment and the natural environment, with an eye to future generations. In his encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis urges us to a “sublime communion” with the created world, so deep that we feel the pain of the Earth’s problems as our own.

Certainly St. Francis of Assisi saw an intrinsic, intimate relationship between God and creation, both human and non-human. Everything created was embraced as a gift of God; everything reflected God; everything led Francis back to God. Everything is sacred.

The need to develop a deeper, more spiritual relationship with the Earth has been echoed by environmental lawyer Gus Speth. He challenges us: “I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation.”

Perhaps it is, indeed, time for us to step up and come to know Lake Erie as our Sister Water, to acknowledge her right to be clean and fresh and abundant, to be her voice for her protection. Being green is a Franciscan thing. Being green is a good thing. But we don’t need those very green algal blooms!

Sister Sharon Havelak

Justice and Peace

Sister Sharon is an artist, educator and long-time peace activist, who currently oversees All Good Things, a store/gallery/gift shop featuring art by the Sisters, handmade soaps and lotions, and Fair Trade products.*

She also serves as the coordinator of the Sylvania Franciscan’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation efforts, and teaches art history at Lourdes University. She keeps her creative juices flowing by painting on silk scarves.
* All Good Things gallery is located in our Sylvania Franciscan Village and many of the items are sold on our website.

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Sister Mary Thill
5 years ago

Thanks, Sharon, for speaking up about the Lake Erie struggle to be kept as the great resource it is to
so many people. I especially appreciate the need to think of “the Lake” as one of the Creator’s finest
works and not just a body of water to use up and pollute as if we are not responsible for all of creation
just like Adam and Eve.

Shannon Schrein
5 years ago

Sharon, this is an excellent blog. Thanks for the information about Lake Erie. I did not know about this upcoming vote.

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