Recently I was at a work conference. At the end of each day, instead of racing home, I would purposely go via a trail that followed the Yarra valley through a nature reserve. This added at least one to two hours to my trip home. This reminded me of Jesus who would often go off into the wilderness by himself to pray (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23). Pope Francis talks about our need to engage and encounter the environment in Laudatio Si paragraph 217:
The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast”. For this reason, the ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.
The external world in which we live influences the internal dimension of who we are. This requires a change and conversion of how we live our lives. Marist founder Jean Claude Colin taught us to “taste God”. To enter into dialogue with the divine by experiencing God in the creation and the world around us. The American Journalist Richard Louv talks about the “Nature Deficit Disorder (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_deficit_disorder). Where the lack of exposure to the natural world is having an influences on the psychological dimension of who we are.
At the conference, I attended, one speaker Margaret talked about the need for immersion. How young people seek meaning by immersing themselves into experiences of life. Her words resounded with my own story. How, many young people who I have taught loved to pray the rosary during a nature walk. To actively engage creation whilst praying.
Do we choose a path which is the fastest way home? Or, do we go by the way where we meet creation?