While acknowledging the amount of energy and efforts that have gone into all the many kinds of activities around the Season of Creation which will end on 4 October, the feast of St Francis, I have not felt completely at one with some of them, in particular when they could appear to be empty gestures.    Of course planting trees is a great thing to do, but is there a spirituality present, an awareness, not only of how nice the tree will look, of the loss of biodiversity or the need to reduce carbon emissions, but of the presence of the Creator in this event and in the young tree?   

Some churches have held celebrations, combining them with Heritage Day – remembering our different cultures in the quest for “unity in diversity”,  and national Braai Day – celebrating by consuming vast quantities of meat and possibly alcohol too.  A community builder yes, but?

Some of us have issued a challenge, “what are you doing to save the world from overheating and contributing to climate change?” or the challenge “Have you not only given xyz to the poor, (who are the poor?) but taken time to listen to their voices, the voice of creation and the earth, which is the theme for this year’s season?    

In the public discourse of course at this time, in South Africa, much of our national focus is on load shedding, the causes, the effects, the difficulties and frustrations and asking who can we blame or should be removed, as well as  what can be done to fix the problem?   Worldwide, economic and social problems, conflict and wars, linked with environmental problems, hurricanes, monsoon floods and typhoons, and wildfires are overwhelming disasters leading to countless human and environmental tragedies. is there a sense of, and a response to, God’s presence in the anxieties as well as the joys of life.

During this week the daily scripture readings tell the story of Job, who experienced tragic losses of everything he owned and was tempted to curse God, until God bent down to share with him the greatness of his creation. Job, overcome with awe, admitted how small and insignificant he was, saying, ”I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.” (Job 42)  Is it a story of hope for us, applicable in our day? 

Hope is illustrated too in the short Emily Dickenson poem: “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.”  The birdsong of hope in the soul for me was reinforced by the Commitment Pact of the1000 youth participating in the ECONOMY OF FRANCESCO (St Francis) conference held last week in Assisi, where they were joined by Pope Francis on the last day.

An extract from their pledge is quoted below.

We, young economists, entrepreneurs, and changemakers, called here to Assisi from every part of the world aware of the responsibility that rests on our generation, commit ourselves today, individually and all collectively to spending our lives so that the economy of today and tomorrow becomes an economy of the Gospel, and therefore:

an economy of peace and not of war,

an economy that opposes the proliferation of arms, especially the most destructive, an economy that cares for creation and does not misuse it,

an economy at the service of the human person, the family and life, respectful of everywoman, man, and child, the elderly, and especially those most frail and vulnerable,

an economy where care replaces rejection and indifference,

an economy that fights poverty in all its forms, reduces inequality and knows how to say with Jesus and Francis, “Blessed are the poor”,

…………………………  and more.    Visit www.francescoeconomy.org

If only all our young people, those with jobs and those without jobs, those successful in their studies and careers and those, feeling hopeless and frustrated and turning to crime and anti-social action.  If only we all, their parents and guardians too, could experience the birdsong of hope in our souls.   The youth are not only our tomorrow, they are our now and they need our protection, guidance and support.   TR FAMILY MATTERS WEEKLY 28 SEPTEMBER 2022