Call to Prayer
What is Ecological Conversion? *
It is with individuals, of course, that conversion begins, and if an individual, such as Thomas Merton, records his or her experiences in a journal, we can trace the transformations as they unfold. When Merton first came upon a review of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, he was shocked to learn what is happening to birds as a result of the indiscriminate use of poisons. When he later read the book for himself, his eyes were opened to his own complicity in this destructive practice, causing him to renounce totally his own follies with DDT. What was transformed was, first, his own awareness of what he was involved in; and, as his awareness and understanding grew, his ways of relating to his natural surroundings also underwent a transformation.
Though Merton’s moment of conversion probably began in the first sudden shock of reading about Carson’s book, the groundwork had been laid long before, in early childhood, through the influence of his parents (both painters), who gave him a love for nature and taught him to see and care for the natural world around him. This was a key first step involving empathy with the natural world in all its beauty and fragility, a sine qua non for what would follow.
All-powerful God, you are present
in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness
all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and
not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
Prepared by Mary Heather MacKinnon, SSND, Atlantic Midwest Province
Graphic taken from the Directional Statement, 24th General Chapter. Design: Congregational Communications Office, SSND International Shalom Network