While visiting Sydney, the Royal Botanical Gardens is one of my favourite places to spend some time. I feel a sense of wonder and awe with the colours, shapes, and smells of God’s gifts of creation that exist in the garden. Having visited Sydney only last weekend, I was amazed to see the gardens transform into ‘Lightscape’ a multi-sensory experience of light, colour, and sound which is part of the Vivid festival. You begin the journey under the glowing tree canopies filled with colour, stroll beneath larger-than-life flowers and alongside neon roots bursting from the undergrowth. This event brings people together to experience the joy of the artists creation set among creation of the garden.
Yesterday was World Environment Day, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually on 5 June since 1973, it is the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world. The 2023 theme focuses on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution. This day brought people together to commemorate the victims of climate crisis and consider what changes need to be made to protect our earth and all who inhabit the planet.
During the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia; the Church encouraged all Catholics to embrace a commitment to ecological conversion. As a result, every parish and diocese around Australia will need to be involved in a plan like the one the Bishops Conference has developed. At its May 2023 plenary meeting, the Bishops Conference endorsed the first iteration of the Laudato Si’ Action Plan, 2023-25. The Bishops Conference launched the plan on World Environment Day, 5 June. To find out more information go to: https://www.catholic.au/s/article/Laudato-Si-Action-Plan
It was only two weeks ago during Laudato Si’ week that a Multifaith service was held in The Terrace Community Garden, which is located behind the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Tighes Hill. It was wonderful to see representatives from the Jewish, Bahai, Muslim and Christian communities present as they came together in prayer and reflection offering excerpts from their sacred texts which highlighted the importance of God and creation. The following is a small sample of the selected offerings.
From the Baha'u'llah:
‘The wonders of His bounty can never cease, and the stream of His merciful grace can never be arrested. The process of His creation hath had no beginning and can have no end.’
From the morning service in Jewish worship:
‘May my blessing reach the Chief Provider who creates and produces, who is righteous and mighty.’
From the Qur’an:
‘Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and day are signs for those of understanding.’
From the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change:
Each one of us has a part to play, in reducing climate pollution, by changing our inner and outer behaviour. As Mahatma Gandhi posited, “If we could change ourselves the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.”
From Pope Francis’ Prayer for our earth.
You are present in the whole universe,
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
That we may protect life and beauty.
At the service time was spent in contemplation of the words spoken or chanted, while participants were encouraged to explore the gifts of creation the garden was producing. The Terrace Community Garden includes many plants that are named in the Jewish and Christian scriptures and were lovingly labelled so they could be recognised both in the garden and in scripture. The significance of plants in the garden reminds us of the interconnectedness of the natural world and the provision and care of God and the responsibility we must continue the practice of daily stewardship. It is because of this desire held across humanity which is not confined to race, creed, gender, or faith that our earth needs to be rejoiced and equally protected. Whether we recognise the beauty and fragility of creation in glowing lights, words, actions, or prayer we should not take our mother earth for granted.
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