Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 19, 2008
Spirituality offers hope for end to ecological crises
Jesuit says relationship with God the Creator must be restored
By LASHA MORNINGSTAR
Spring "is the beauty of life again, reclaiming life. That becomes our experience then."
- Fr. Jim Profit
Once we become more conscious of how we exploit the earth, our actions should change, he says.
But even with such an expanded awareness, when one goes back to live in our disposable, money-first culture, it can be "very discouraging and we can feel quite alone.
"But there are at least two ways that are helpful.
"One is the experience of community, and also to foster community." The St. Albert workshop, he said, will try to build a sense of community.
And what about the despair?
"The only way that we can deal with that despair and that sort of pessimism is through our faith. And it is through that spiritual connection again, and for me it is through my experience of the resurrection when we celebrate at Easter, that death is not the end of the story and it is the life that comes from death.
"When we contemplate the evolutionary story of creation we get told the same message. It is a story that is full of crisis. Life has been always able to respond to those crises."
Profit just has to gaze out of a Loyola House window situated at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre's 600 acres of farmland, woods and wetlands near Guelph, Ont., to share his next example.
"The seasons tell us the same thing. We are currently enjoying spring after a fairly hard snow. And yet it is the beauty of life again, reclaiming life. That becomes our experience then.
"When we experience suffering, when we experience death, we have the expectation that this is not the end of the story and somehow, in the mystery of all of this, life will come about."
Profit has been leading these workshops for nine years and says his hope comes from people coming together "and that God will work through that."
Profit's roots too sustain him.
"In a five-mile stretch in P.E.I. I had seven relatives who were farmers and we are surrounded by the sea. I realized my primary relationship with God was through the sea and through the farms of my relatives."
Did this immersion in God's creation nourish his discernment?
Profit pauses and then replies.
"I was exposed to the Jesuits here at Guelph (while he was going to school). And the farm here was certainly one of the influences.
"I think I was attracted to the Jesuits because of their community, their experience of spirituality and commitment to social justice."
The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius plus native spirituality allowed Profit to "really name my primary experience of God with procreation. I think native people provided me with the rituals and the symbols to speak to that."
And he tells of an experience he had with sacred fire.
"It was early on in this experience and what surprised me was no one needed to tell me what the symbols and rituals meant. I just sort of had an intuition because they really spoke to my experience."
Asked if he has an aboriginal ancestry, Profits says no, but that his "Celtic spirituality filters through. It is Canada. This is the land that we live and breathe. So it would make sense that native spirituality would speak to us."
Profit is also part of a Mysticism of the Earth: An Ignatian Ecology Retreat Aug. 1 to 9 to be held at Loyola House. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, developed exercises that have been adapted to address the ecological issue.
"The beauty of these retreats we do is that it is not the end of the experience," assures Profit. "I hope (participants) will have a powerful prayer experience of God as Creator and leave with an experience of hope and a commitment of how they can act and make a difference."
As Profit notes at the conclusion of a reflection article, "I know I do not labour alone, because God labours for me, in all of creation."
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