The Earth is God’s: 2022 Companion Conference
THE EARTH IS GOD'S:
``We talk, we read, we listen, we discuss. But what we see deeply enhances our words and stories.``
The earth is God’s, and all that is in it, the world and all those who dwell therein.
Rob Hirschfeld, Bishop of New Hampshire, recently released a video report from the Lambeth Conference about the bishops’ discussion on care for creation. He began by reading the opening lines of Psalm 24.
I liked that our virtual Companion Conference on creation care, on Saints Francis and Clare, on Vida Scudder, almost coincided with Lambeth discussions on the environment, and watching Rob’s video a few days after the conference was, for me, a lovely cap to our discussions, talks, and reflection, the perfect call to how we must proceed.
I enjoyed our conference. The talks were excellent, all of them. I have always been partial to St. Francis, and still have a holy card given to me in second grade, by Sister Mary Jean, of St Francis, very presentable, well clad, haloed, holding the baby Jesus. No wolf sidling up to St. Francis for second graders.
THE DRAWINGS DREW ME DEEPER
One of our discussion questions for small groups asked – what part of the Creation Care Cookbook most spoke to each of us. When my turn came, I opted for the drawings. The conference logo showing a circle of creation. The drawing of the cardinal flower on the inside back cover. The description by Mary Priestly about drawing plants from the Sewanee herbarium onto cloth squares, putting them outside the coffee shop for passers-by to enjoy, and then sewing them into banners.
We talk, we read, we listen, we discuss. But what we see deeply enhances our words and stories. A single image can oblige us to pause and be still, to allow our minds and hearts to surface a range of reflections and understandings that surprise us. A simple drawing can open doors and windows to let new light in.
GATHERING VIRTUALLY AS COMPARED WITH IN PERSON
Virtual small group discussions are different from in person. In person, you wander to your meeting place, stopping for coffee, talking with those you pass. Once there, you join or listen to desultory conversation as people wander in, take a seat (or discover they are in the wrong group and dash out). At the end, you might linger, continue past the time limit, join another conversation on the way back to the meeting room. The edges are soft.
Virtually, you move from the meeting to the breakout room in a second, and at the end of the time – poof! You are cut off and instantly returned. Yet, the substance of what lies between getting there and leaving is the same. You meet new people, hear their ideas, hesitate, try out your own thoughts, laugh, and enjoy the company of others.
I am so grateful to Zoom for the opportunity to attend the conference in this very different way. And grateful for the virtual connection to that other meeting on that other shore, which added to and continued my conference experience.
For it is God who founded the earth upon the seas, and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.
Drawing by Margaret Young, Conference Logo
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.”
This one, 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.”
Then, 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.”
Finally, 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.