Several years ago, when I was program director of the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality (ICCS) at Holy Names University, we were privileged to welcome a number of women religious as students in the program.
Among our students was Sr. Karla Barker OSF, a Franciscan sister from Oldenburg Indiana. Following her graduation, she joined the staff of Springbank Retreat, Center of EcoSpirituality and the Arts in Kingstree, South Carolina. From her new home, our conversations continued.
Over the years, I was occasionally invited to Springbank to conduct a weekend workshop on my most recent book. And I often came to participate in Holy Week ceremonies (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter vigil). Last year, I was present when the Springbank director, Trina McCormick OP, celebrated thirty years of leadership in this sacred place.
Today I write to you from Springbank. Since my retirement from Holy Names, I have been in search of a context for a meaningful ministry. By that, I mean a place where it is possible for me to write, teach, celebrate the Eucharist, and join a living community of faith with wonderful people who share my Catholic tradition. In other words, a place where I can exercise the ministry for which I was ordained more than half a century ago.
Here in this monastery of live oaks, I remember the energy that flowed through my activities in the years following Vatican II. I am also here to accomplish things that remain unfinished in my life.
As I reread the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ and Thomas Berry CP, I realize that we have great work yet to accomplish. It is the work needed at a great cosmological Exodus moment. In this historic moment, we move from the static world of Newton, Descartes, and Bacon into the sacred time Thomas termed the Ecozoic era. In this grand new era, we—and more importantly, our children—will be participants in a community that will be understood through its mutually enhancing relationship with the Earth.
(originally published October 30, 2016)