Seasons of the soul

cath jamesAround the end of August and beginning of September, there is something invigorating in the air.

It’s as if an unconscious rhythm has kicked in, one that tells my body it’s time to stop hibernating and protecting myself from the cold and, instead, open up to possibilities.

In Central Victoria, the wattles come into their own. They are outrageously prolific and puffs of sunburst-yellow fill the landscape where previously there was a hue of mottled-green.

The air gets warmer and brings with it the scent of pollen. The smell of woodsmoke and the chill of winter start to subside.

The more I observe and learn about this vast and complex world, the more it makes sense to me that God is the means by which we are all interconnected.

I don’t claim to understand this, but I have faith that it is true. When I read the Bible or pray and spend time in silence, I get glimpses of a bigger truth. The truths I have learnt from the natural world, that I see mirrored in the Christian faith and which play out in my life are this: that new life always springs out of death, that we cannot live alone – we need healthy communities/eco-systems to survive, that where energy is there is life.

Catholic and Orthodox churches begin September with the World Day of Prayer for Creation and you will see something of an environmental theme is this issue of Crosslight.

Learn how our and other churches are rallying around rural communities struggling with drought in East Gippsland in our feature on page 14 and 15. Page 6 has two stories about how the Uniting Church is linking environment and theology, something Rev Elizabeth Raine writes about in her reflection on page 20.

September has also traditionally been interfaith month and on page 4 we learn about an innovative month-long program being planned at Ormond Uniting Church to explore other beliefs.

On page 21 you will also find a strong response from our church to recent disturbing manifestations of racism in our public life.

As part of ‘For the Whole Creation’ proposal put to the last Assembly, we affirmed as a Uniting Church the need to understand the impacts of climate change on traditional, spiritual and contemporary ways of life, continue to advocate for change and reduce our impact.

But how does this affect me in my small life in Central Victoria?

As a spiritual response, this is what I have come up with: Practice feeling grateful – for blossom, for food, for friends and family and all that enables me to live and love, because that will allow me to say yes to what is life-giving. Respond to injustice – harness the energy of feeling angry and join with others to make a difference, have hope that new life will come out of dark places, as it always has before.

Just as the natural world is responding and adapting, I know my response will need to adapt. There is truth in the Christian faith that will carry us through.   

Cath James is Presbytery of Loddon Mallee safety officer.

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