Lent - A time of Healing
Fr. Ashley Miranda SDB
27 February 2023
Lent is a wonderful time of the year! A time to take stock of one’s life. A time of healing or making a new beginning. It is a time of repentance and resolutions. It is a time for honesty, a time to make amends, a time to make life changing decisions. Of course, Lent can be celebrated meaningfully only against the backdrop of the life of Jesus who taught us by word and action that the secret of a full and happy life is to live in communion with God, fellow human beings and creation. In the beatitudes he pointed out that one doesn’t need much to be happy and that ‘blessedness’ is a question of being and living in a certain way rather than a question of having many possessions and comforts.
During this season of Lent while we reflect on the quality of our relationship with God and our fellow human beings, we would do well to also reflect more deeply on our relationship with all of creation and ask ourselves whether there is anything in this relationship that needs healing. While we may be alarmed about the inordinate use of fossil fuels, damage caused to fragile coastal ecosystems, and plastics clogging our oceans and choking marine life, we might not be sufficiently aware of how we in our day to day lives may be causing harm to the environment and contributing even if in a seemingly small way to the abuse of nature that has become so much part of the contemporary consumeristic civilization.
Pope Francis has often spoken of a need for an “ecological conversion” understood as making changes in our lifestyle so as to ensure that we do not unnecessarily hurt creation and taking concrete steps to foster the ‘symbiosis and balance’ that is essential for nature to thrive. What can each one of us do this Lent to practice this ‘ecological conversion’ and contribute to the healing that our world so desperately needs?!!
Resolve to go through Lent without buying anything new in terms of clothes, furniture, electronic gadgets, etc.
Simplify your life-style. As Pope Francis has said, we need to distinguish between our many wants and things we need.
Set up a kitchen garden if you are blessed to have a front-yard or back-yard where you can grow vegetables. By local produce as much as possible rather than food that comes packaged and processed in some far away place by some multinational.
Be careful about how you use water. Do not keep the tap running unnecessarily while shaving, washing or having a bath. With a small gadget that does not cost too much one can ensure that toilet flushes are water efficient.
Try washing clothes by hand, instead of using a washing machine. Hang clothes out to dry in the sun rather than use a dryer.
Minimize the use of plastic, especially single use plastic. Use a cloth bag to carry provisions.
Segregate garbage carefully. Do not throw away things that can be reused. Ensure that things that can be recycled are collected in one place and sent to recycling units.
Do not waste food.
Plant a few native species of plants/trees in your neighbourhood. Plants help to keep down pollution. They help to lower the temperature a little. Plants mean more flowers, more birds, more bees. In brief, plants and trees contribute to making the surroundings a little more pleasant.
Place a dish with some bird food out on the window or in the garden. So also place a bowl or two of water on the window or the garden for birds and other little animals to quench their thirst.
Invest in clean energy, for example, solar panels to generate electricity and also perhaps to heat water and even cook in your home.
To the extent possible, walk or cycle rather than use a car or motorcycle. Use public means of transportation, if available. Practice carpooling.
I am sure, if one applies one’s mind to the concrete situation one is in one could come up with many other concrete things that one could do to protect and save the environment. The great challenge before us is, first of all, not to succumb to the temptation to spend all our time blaming leaders and government officials, rich people and foreign nations and then giving up in despair exclaiming until they change we are doomed!! The second challenge is not to allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking that we are too insignificant or too small to make a difference. The fact that we are just ordinary folk, does not make us insignificant!! Let us remember that , It is the little drop that contributes to make the ocean. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first small step!!