Decision-making from a cosmic common good

Decision-making from a cosmic common good

by Anita Beskar, FSPA 

The Body of Christ, in all Creation, is groaning in labor pains, in one great act of giving birth … (Romans 8:22)

Paul’s words have echoed over the years throughout all ages and today they again thunder in our midst. How is the Spirit groaning to give birth in our midst? How might we again be invited to risk being midwives in this process, in our planning and visioning for our future? What is birthing? How is all creation groaning to birth in us?

Franciscan Sister of Washington D.C. Ilia Delio suggests in her book “Making All Things New” that in our age of cosmic consciousness the Spirit groaning in nature—in all creation—seeks to make new wholes as this same Spirit engages our consciousness and directs our attention to whole making. Our experience tells us that something is whole when all its parts fit together in right relationship. As our consciousness of right relationships and interdependence continues to explode beyond our small planet into a cosmos of mystery, how are we being challenged? Pope Francis, in “Laudato Si’,” proposes that a cosmic common good represents the most adequate framework for thinking through ecological concerns and understanding the full dimension and cosmic impact of an imperiled earth. This common good is rooted in relationships of interdependence that provide the context in which each part of the community achieves its own goodness. Many of us hold memories of the synergistic relationships between the Villa St. Joseph land and its buildings. From our earliest years in FSPA we experienced how the Villa land supported the life in our buildings and the buildings were constructed to facilitate this life, both animal and human. We were immersed in this interdependence without analyzing or naming it, but we bear it in our roots. These roots led us to articulate in “Unity in Diversity, 40,” that “we continue our efforts to preserve and nurture God’s creation, to increase social and global consciousness … and to encourage action to effect change where necessary.”

We have continued to nurture this interdependence of land and buildings in new major building initiatives throughout the years. The groaning of the gestation process that gave birth to Prairiewoods as a Franciscan spirituality center emerged with a commitment to integrate its land and buildings. The ecological insights of the cosmos as the womb of the interdependent relationships of all creation were honored in its planning and construction. The theological insights of Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry guided the prayer and discernment that provided the roots that have continued to midwife cosmic consciousness and interdependent relationships through the mission of Prairiewoods.

In the beauty of St. Joseph Ridge and the heritage of its precious land we have continued to experience the interdependence in all creation. Our efforts to restore our woodlands, clean our natural spring waters and provide burial grounds that welcome us into the cycles of nature have heightened our cosmic consciousness. From meager attempts, our gardens now blossom with abundance in healthy foods, nurtured from restored soils in an improved chemical-free environment. But the groaning of labor pains to give new birth continued to haunt us, and new life has come among us in Jacoba, our zero-sum water and energy greenhouse.

Jacoba was birthed in a network of interdependent relationships: the commitment of untold numbers of skilled and volunteer people; its relationship to the existing matrix of farmlands, highways, buildings, and water and energy systems, each mutually affecting each other. The very process of planning and construction of Jacoba became an intentional response to “Unity in Diversity, 40,” as it increased global and cosmic consciousness and effected change to preserve and nurture God’s creation.

In the spirit of this interdependent heritage, what do we need to let come to birth as we discern our future? How do we honor our commitment for the land to be used for spirituality and education? Would it be suitable for the development of an intergenerational community that would model a sustainable lifestyle? What other birthing does the interdependent relationship of our buildings and land call forth in you?

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