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Monday, May 10 2021  - 2 User Online  

01.02.2021 01:41:50 242x read.


[Bro. Guido Sukarman]

The value and benefits of growing crops and planting trees and flowers was introduced to me when I was still a boy. My parents were traditional farmers who lived in a farming village. As a boy of primary school going age, I had already been exposed to this farming environment, and I found myself involved in the rituals of farming, planting as well as pruning trees. This gave me the idea of the sacredness of the soil and all that grows in it. One day my father asked me to plant a coconut tree. It was very ceremonial: the way I carried the coconut seedling from the house to the place where we were going to plant it, was a solemn procession. Reaching the place my father had prepared, and while I was still carrying (holding) the coconut seedling, my father instructed me to sit in a certain way (with folded legs), facing north. He asked me to do something like saying prayers together with him - that time my father and I were not yet Christians - before setting the seedling into the prepared hole in the ground. Then, having gently covered the hole with soil we made a kind of concluding prayer to complete the whole ceremony of planting the coconut seedling.


With this short story I just want to say that from the early stage of my life I was already unknowingly introduced to what is now called “caring for the environment”. This introduction was somehow strengthened by people in the village who did farming, planting as well as pruning trees the same way; and this happened long before “Laodato Si” was born. My becoming a Catholic, a religious, a Brother FIC and the teaching of “Laodato Si” affirms and confirms what I learned, and this forms part of my attitude especially towards nature and the environment. We all have learned and come to know and are even convinced that the environment around us is an essential part of human survival. Nature provides us with so many wonderful and useful things; from beautiful sights, to food & shelter, to maintaining the delicate balance necessary to sustain life on this planet. And one of the main messages of “Laodato Si” is that we should care for the environment. For we also know that first and foremost, a clean environment is vital, not only to our own healthy living, but the survival of all other living things. The air we breathe is the most essential resource that the environment provides us with. The more we don’t care about our environment, the more it will become polluted with contaminants and toxins that have a harmful impact on our health. Air pollution can cause respiratory diseases and cancer, among other problems and diseases. Water pollution can lead to typhoid, diarrheal diseases, and many others.

What can we do, then? Or what can we individually do to help improve the environment? Let me just quote “Laudato Si”: “Education on environmental responsibility can support our ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as minimal use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, and many other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity." (#211)


Rethinking and reflecting on the above message, I am drawn, among others, to the following Scripture text: Genesis 2… Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; …. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, …15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. (New Revised Standard Version - NRSV). This has been helping me spiritualize my contact with the environment, with the soil, plants (trees), animals and the air I am nurturing and caring for. When I do gardening I often experience a kind of a living relationship with them and at the same time, become closer to God the creator of all.


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