A Syriac world view of ecological conversion

Greetings from Darug Country.

In 2015 Pope Francis wrote his encyclical Laudato Si, it is in my view prophetic. 

The science is clear, in coming years the world is facing ecological crisis. We are approaching a time when many will be living in great fear and as the science tells us, the most vulnerable and the poor will be exposed to this crisis more than anyone else. 

This is a time when the Church can lead in a world that will be panicked and uncertain. This will be an area which can unite. If the Church seizes this opportunity, and works with others, including the secular, our First Nations People, other Christian denominations and other faith groups, this will be a time when we can unveil to others the beauty of our Church. It will be a time when the Church can offer an alternative to the degradation and decline both of nature and of faith. 

In my own Syriac spiritual tradition, it is emphasised that nature and the natural word stand side by side with Scripture as witness to God. Ecological conversion is not just about climate change, it infuses every aspect of our physical and spiritual being. We are called to stand in wonder and in gratitude of the natural world as it is God’s own revelation to us. We are called to look the natural world with reverence, as in it, are the symbols of God. Our attitude towards Creation is demonstrative of our attitude towards God and each other. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, when sin enters Paradise, it disturbs the balance and the harmony of things. A balance and harmony that Christ the Gardener came to restore. 

Human injustice goes beyond its own injustice. Our greed, our waste our turning away from God and our rejection of him in our own mistreatment of our neighbours and Creation impacts beyond the moment. It disturbs the natural order of things.  As we have already begun to see, the rising seas have an impact on our neighbours in Oceania and the warming of the earth has an impact  on our people in the bush. For me in this moment, the words of St Ephrem, a deacon and giant of spirituality in the Syriac Church are ringing louder than ever:

‘Because the mouth of human beings had condemned Him, 

The Voice of creation cried out to proclaim him innocent.

Men were silent, so the stones cried out.’

God’s revelation in nature is crying out. It is reminding us that God is still here, that Christ is still in our midst and that we must join our voices with the stones crying out and the mountains shaking, like they did at the time of the crucifixion  and profess Christ to the world. Let us not be a Church that is reactionary, rather let us be the leaders in this moment so that the world might know that truth is in Christ. If we begin now, then in the decades to come the world can recover and it will be certain that that recovery was in Christ.

Theresa Simon

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