Containment, reflection time, conversion time.
As the year 2020 began, I was hopeful that greater awareness of the effects of climate change would finally lead humanity on a new path as we awakened to the magnitude of destruction we are causing in our world. We must change our behaviours and lifestyle if we are to survive on planet Earth. I was encouraged by the care for creation by so many people around the world who want a more sustainable future for all. It’s estimated that there are over one million organizations throughout the world working to protect the environment. This is the biggest movement to ever take hold in the history of human civilization.
Arrival of COVID-19
Then, an invisible killer made itself known. Little by little I heard of a new virus coming out of China. It was late February or early March that the word PANDEMIC caught my attention. The last Sunday Mass I attended was on March 8th and my isolation began on March 9th – life as I knew it came to an end and everything was put on hold.
As I was adjusting to the “new normal”, the thing that came to mind was that finally, nature is getting a break from human activity – less noise and air pollution, the diminishing levels of greenhouse gas emissions and the sight of all kinds of animals roaming freely in our empty city streets.
I realized the seriousness and effects of this pandemic when our economy shut down, starting with the closure of schools, stores and shops, our government’s financial support for millions of citizens and businesses. We are in uncharted territory for our country and indeed the world! New words started popping up like social distancing, physical distancing, confinement, quarantine, self isolation…
The magnitude and the effects of this pandemic made me realize even more that the Earth is a self-regulating and self-healing organism and that each species is a living cell in the body of Earth. We know that Earth formed some 4.8 billion years ago, and life emerged some 3.8 billion years ago. Slowly life began evolving, different cells working together to create new life forms, starting with single cell creatures to more complex life forms that we have today.
Wisdom of our land
Scientists believe that the COVID-19 virus first appeared at a Chinese Wet Market in Wuhan. These types of markets put people and live and dead animals — dogs, chickens, pigs, snakes, civets, and more — in constant close contact. That makes it easy for diseases to jump from animals to humans.
I realized that I too am part of the problem. I eat meat and poultry, but I do not want to look at the way we treat our animals. I too need to make changes in my diet to live more sustainably.
For me, Covid-19 virus is a reminder that when the Earth is out of balance, our planet will find a way to heal itself so life can continue to flourish and if it means getting rid of a certain species such as humans, that is what our Mother Earth will do. We have a choice, life or death. We will flourish as a species when we have understood our rightful place and our role in this Web of Life. We cannot control the Earth nor are we its masters.
We know that humans are destroying many of the ecosystems that we depend on for survival. According to cosmologist Brian Swimme, there has not been this much destruction on the planet since the disappearance of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. It took 3.8 billion years of creativity for the Earth to find the right balance for life as we know it to flourish. We have managed to destroy this intricate balance of life just in the last 300 years! We are realizing that the only way we will survive as a species is to commune with nature, to understand that we are interconnected and interdependent. We need to stop manipulating and controlling nature for our own use and abuse.
It is clear and urgent that we continue moving towards stewardship rather than dominion and control. Our very survival depends on it, otherwise the Earth will take the necessary action to eliminate any species that does not want to participate in this Dance of Life.
We as Daughters of Jesus and Associates have been journeying towards this new path. As quarantine and self-isolation are slowly being lifted in many countries, we must continue to move towards a more sustainable way of life for all of humanity and we must find our rightful place in the Web of Life.
Invitation and conclusion
I would invite you to meditate on Job 12:7-10. Now is a good time to stop and contemplate on one creature that you might encounter on a walk or that you see from your window. As the creature reveals itself to you, ask the creature for guidance to help you find your rightful place in this Web of Life. You might be surprised, maybe a creature will choose you to converse with! Be open, attentive and listen…
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” Job 12:7-10 NRSV
Denise Lirette, fj, Moncton, Canada