A Grace-filled Creation: 2022 Companion Conference
WHEN I THINK OF A GRACE-FILLED CREATION:
``We are being called to examine the shards of injustice which include climate change, sexism, and racism.``
When I think of a grace-filled creation I have only to watch one of David Attenborough’s stunning programs on the natural world. Since my teenage years in the UK, I have been enamored with David’s naturalist work as he made his way around the Globe in the BBC series, Zoo Quest.
Perhaps it is too far a stretch to compare Saints Francis and Clare to David and Veronica. I never saw him disrobe on an African plain and he never visited me when I was cloistered at Adelynrood, but I do believe we share the same theology; that is a love of creation. The bittersweet part is, despite great beauty and abundance still to be seen and the modern technology of solar panels and wind turbines, it is not enough. As we have aged, we have watched climate change the world around us.
THE VIRTUAL COMPANION CONFERENCE
At our virtual Companion Conference, we were asked to meet the challenges of this time. We were offered compelling intercessions, vital recipes, small groups in which to continue discussion and memorable homilies.
We witnessed the Reverend Canon Stephanie Spellers and her revolutionary cry for change. As Episcopalians we are being called to examine the shards of injustice which include climate change, sexism, and racism.
We also need to remember that, like our bodies, this planet does not belong to us, but to God, Mother and Creator of us all.
I connected with this conference as the small groups connected with me. The resource material was compiled for us by artistic and literary hands; memoir and vignettes reminding me of a tern’s nest on the sand dune, just a chalice of sand containing three eggs, and another of scattering consecrated crumbs for birds in a columbarium garden where ashes of a beloved Companion lie beneath the rose bush.
There was suggested reading material we can take back to our chapter, such as Finding the Mother Tree, about a Canadian scientist who came from a logging family in British Columbia and has made trees and their communication with one another her life’s work.
THE CONFERENCE HAS US THINKING
The day after the conference, we were invited by a Companion in our chapter to gather on her patio to discuss and reflect on our experiences. There were six Companions, two Discerners and a Companion’s companion. We sat in the cool of the evening and chatted in groups before we came together in a circle for prayer.
I believe the power of thanksgiving and intercession helps us to reclaim humanity and empowers our society to do their utmost to repair our relationship to the world.
David Attenborough and I are coming to the last decade of our lives. I watch his familiar gestures during the showing of his most recent program, “The Green Planet,” where he reveals the remarkable adaptability of creatures and plants under the shadow of climate change.
Have I been a good steward of this earth?
Circumstance has me living in a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Amherst where I can live a simple and contemplative life. I am grateful that the birds outside still tell me that “morning has broken like the first morning,” and the green herbs that grow in pots on the balcony need water.
Nevertheless, once a month the bell at Grace Church tolls for eleven minutes to remind us that time is running out and I stand in solidarity and ring my cow bell.
Photo by Lois Blood Bennett:
A small-group discussion at the in-person conference.
A series of Companions’ responses to the 2022 Companion Conference began with a post from Kate Smith, Hartford Chapter, on July 14, after the in-person conference: “Joys and Challenges.” Now we have four more posts after the virtual conference.
First, from Kathleen Staudt, Potomac River Chapter, the conference’s chairwoman, returning to Adelynrood after two years away because of the pandemic, and the last few days of preparation for being together again at Companion Conference: “Coming Home to Adelynrood.”
Next, from Nancy Lowry, Berkshire Chapter, noting parallels with messages about concern for creation coming from the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion: “The Earth is God’s.”
Third, from Faith Perrizo, Minnesota Chapter, illustrating several facets of Franciscan spirituality that the conference highlighted for her: “God’s Call to Francis: Build My Church.”
And this one, from Veronica Chapman, Berkshire Chapter, connecting the ideas of the conference with David Attenborough’s TV nature series, and responding with new energy: “When I Think of a Grace-Filled Creation.”
I encourage you to read them all for a thoughtful overview. With this conference, the Companions have tried to ready themselves to work with God on some of the most pressing areas for concern in our time.