Sunday, 28 September 2008

Not Hasty to Assume - But Fast - Take Time to See for Real

As I contemplate the call to Fast for the Planet I pen this


I was nurtured and continued in the Christian tradition of making Lent and Advent periods of voluntary abstention from habits and patterns that I took for granted. These not unhappy extended periods of discipline fed the weekly practices associated with preparing for worship and for the application of the same in daily disciplines of sustaining and practising the wholistic faith in which I had been gently nurtured.

These great seasons led me to value the stimulus of a weekly discipline of standing aside from the pace of life, that seemed always to be building up, and to value regular reflection on the wisdom of ancient traditions that still served well over time and translated into pertinent commitments in my own times. I was slowly learning the value of contemplation in a world of action and making the practice my own.

It was in such times that I opened my narrow mind to wider ranges of reality, read and listened to writings that stretched my conditioned ways to include the perspective of others living in different cultures and countries than my own.

It was in such times that I renewed and expanded my understanding so neatly expressed in that delightful quip, 'I have a point of view, but God has a view of points'.

It was in such times that I read 'Only One Earth, the Care and Maintenance of a Small Planet' and discovered the cosmic perspective embedded in the 'Gaia Atlas of Planet Management - for Today's Caretakers of Tomorrow's World'. On every one of its 258 pages of that atlas an aspect of life on earth is depicted with pictures or symbols of a person, of corporate structure, and of the world itself, leading me to my now indelible understanding that real life is endless gift events and consists in an unceasing oscillation between the intimate, the corporate and the global perspectives on its integrity. It taught me also that all life on earth shares the common ground of 'earth identity'

Over time the practice of fasting, contemplation, standing outside my ordinary patterns, confirmed and increased my ecumenical and ecological sensibilities and readied me to adopt such guiding mantras as 'inclusive justice', as 'an economy that works for everyone and protects the earth', and as 'holistic theology and earth system science'.

Fasting in its various manifestations keeps me committed to developing the will and the way to check and change my behaviour so that I work from 'a psyche the size of God's awesome creation', to find again my own meaning in that context, lessening the tendency to dwell in 'a psyche the size only of my self' and my conditioned, encultured and vested narrow interests.

Out of standing aside in these ways from time to time with the discipline of regularity I make thrilling sense of the words of Thomas Berry - 'We will go into the future as a single sacred community or we shall perish in the desert.' .

Peter Challen

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