By: Linda Longmire, A-csm
In the early 70’s, when GreenPeace emerged as environmental activists, many of us thought that they were a fringe group overreacting to their perceived environmental concerns. However, with the growing number of environmental scientists and educators, such as David Suzuki, with his grounded presence and gravely concerned voice, speaking out about our need to care for the Earth, we have slowly come to understand the necessity of not only preserving the beauty of the Earth, but our great need to protect it as we grow in awareness of our interconnectedness to the Earth, and all creation, and of our utter dependence on it for our very survival.
I see a parallel here with the associates of women’s religious communities. We, as associates are equally concerned about taking care of the inner environment- the inner lives of people- and recognize the need to preserve its sacred beauty and to protect this inner spiritual environment as we depend upon it for our living out of the essence of what it is to be fully human.
As associates, we recognize that it is in very large part the Sisters of Religious communities who, throughout history, have cultivated and provided sacred sanctuaries, literally and metaphorically, for those in the secular world who recognized their hunger for God and for a sense of the Sacred in their lives. We are aware that the life of the Sisters and their communities feed the inner environment - the life of one’s soul.
It seems to me that ARCAN, the Atlantic Religious Congregations and Associates Network (as well as other associates- 55,000 in the US alone), is to the inner environment what GreenPeace is to the outer environment. There is a shared view that there is something precious and sacred to preserve, something to which we are all connected and utterly dependent upon, whether we are conscious of this connectedness or not, and that this view leads us to a passionate desire to protect what is deeply valued.
The Sisters and their way of life and being, in and with God, are the greening trees, the flowing rivers, the abundant fields. The associates are the spiritual environmentalists who deeply value the Sisters and their communities and want to preserve their beauty and to protect the inmost Sacred that is the source of life and interconnectedness of all creation.