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Another kind of ‘Earth Hour’

Earth Hour takes place on Saturday 28th March at 8.30 pm your local time!  The theme for Earth Day 2020 is climate action.   ‘Earth Hour’ initiated the first symbolic ‘lights out’ event which took place in Sydney in 2007.  This gesture of ‘switching off’ back then was initiated as a trigger to remind humanity to stop, conserve, ponder and act in solidarity to ‘Save the Earth’.

“Earth Hour is now one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment, engaging millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories. It has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people”.  See  https://www.earthhour.org/

It is thirteen years later, and ‘Earth Hour’ has become a global initiative – but more than that, through the implementation of education and action frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) all 17 inter-related and  interconnected, as well as inter-generational profile raising actions, advocacy, educational programmes and projects and social gatherings for Climate Action (weekly, globally) it is clear that the Climate Crisis is our individual, local and global responsibility.

And, as if another profound and traumatic reminder were needed, we now live through the daily challenge of ‘flattening the curve’ to halt the exponentially invasive spread of the #COVID19 virus globally.

The reality today

It can seem that almost everything we take for granted every single day  (and I am not thinking  about exotic, out of the way things) have now taken on another dimension as something, deeper, simpler (maybe at times longed for now in absence) but most definitely appreciated and valued.

This I suggest has made for another kind of ‘earth hour’ this year – one of fraternity and solidarity – as we take on those challenging actions that change our behaviour, out of love for the Universe (the Earth and its people and the Cosmos) to save lives.

On May 16th to 24th, 2020 we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home – the landmark document by Pope Francis.  This encyclical (authoritative papal letter) was signed by Francis on May 24, 2015, and was released a month later on June 18. It was the first papal encyclical devoted entirely to church teaching on environment and human ecology, that continually invites us to “Hear the cry of the Earth, and the cry of the Poor”  and that challenges us to live for an integral ecology that takes us to the heart of what it is to be human.

The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.  (LS – 13)

Laudato Si  sets out a ‘just framework’ in which to inform our ‘right relationship’ with the Earth and its peoples.

Light in Darkness

This Earth Hour 2020 can be a reminder too that as the ‘lights go out’ , that  there has been a practice in Ireland from ancient times, of at Christmas placing a light in the window.  Now more than ever a tangible sign of light in darkness, solidarity, comfort and blessings to all who look upon it.  It was a symbolic gesture to those ancient travellers who could find no shelter when there was no room at the Inn, for them and the coming child Jesus.

Our ‘earth hour’ this year might be not just about ‘switching off the lights’ but also about sending out the light, and about being that ‘Light in Darkness‘ in whatever way we can (beyond the wax).  Through communication of any kind, we can invent supports that touch hearts and remind each person alone, in families and in communities, and across cultures and peoples that we are in this together.

Earth Hour perhaps can be that hour that reminds us more than ever that this ‘reach out’ really matters for the Planet.

Woman of Welcoming Heart  ~ [Nano Nagle]

They know her in the crowded lonely ways
woman of welcoming heart,
whose lantern sheds kind beams for eyes
waste-misted by the weary miles,
for them her hands are open, for her their doors.

Room is made by dim and smoking fire,
some small crust shared,
and she, receiving, knows still more to give,
and, welcomed, grows in art of welcoming.

Apart, in shadowed hours of night and dawn,
leaning heart to heart on the One who pulses life
into the lowliest and least of all that lives,
she learns to unclasp the last-kept store
and lay it down in welcome: “Take and share.”

Until, the last loaf broken,
the last wine poured,
she can dare the outer darkness,
the fine-piercing sword, and bear to be bereft…
heart-certain that beyond this last black mile
light streams from beckoning windows and
from wide-flung door, where she will hear
the voice grown dear in silent listening years:

“Woman of welcoming heart, here is your home.”

~ Sr. Raphael Consedine, pbvm

To find out about Nano Nagle see HERE

And also Nano’s Letters – A digital collection




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