165: Here’s Hope! In Spring, All of Creation Leads Us Toward New Birth

rom the beginning till now the entire Creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation — but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit …”

Romans 8:22

On your spiritual journey this week, please meet a couple of women who bravely are facing the threats to our planet — and leading pilgrims toward prayers of renewal and hope.
    In fact, they’re not only leading pilgrims toward prayers — they’re leading them out the door, across the fields and into the woods!
    B.J. Schlachter, an IHM Associate, and Sister Margaret Schmidt, IHM, are part of a Catholic religious order of women who are transforming their lives into a global witness of “green” theology. And this huge effort is not just in the form of spiritual teaching. These women are placing their money and their entire Motherhouse in Monroe, Michigan, behind this effort to show the world what can be done to reduce their imprint on the planet.
    Now, the IHM Sisters receive visitors from around the world to see what they’ve done to transform their buildings and grounds. Here at ReadTheSpirit, we’re impressed with their activism — despite the fact that most IHM Sisters are past what most Americans might consider retirement age.

    We last heard from the Sisters a month ago, just before Earth Day. At that time, we took a look at some of the surprising voices in the religiously green vanguard. If you care to jump back, here’s our first story on that green theme. Then, through the Sisters, we shared a very hopeful African voice from Kenya. Finally, we published even more inspiring voices from the Sisters as Passover started — in a day of interfaith reflections on the natural world. We also introduced The Adventure Rabbi that day!
    This week — today, Tuesday and again on Thursday — you’ll find video clips featuring B.J. and Sister Margaret, showing us precisely what they’re talking about in their new paperback booklet, “Nature Stations: A Meditative Walk.”

    We could have simply reviewed and recommended this booklet. But the whole point of “Nature Stations” is to move outside and reflect in the midst of the natural world.
    ReadTheSpirit Publisher John Hile produced these three short videos in a style that’s deliberately simple in its design from start to finish: One camera, one camera operator, editing software on a Mac laptop, producing videos posted to YouTube, then pulled back out onto our Web site.
    If you like the videos — go grab them yourself and put them on your own Web site. There’s simple coding right there on YouTube to share the videos. (For that matter, all of our articles at ReadTheSpirit are published under Creative Commons, encouraging people to share the articles with others — as long as you credit our site as the source.)
    We’re working in this simplified, cooperative way to make the point that men, women and young people all around the world with relatively simple equipment and software could be producing similarly inspirational messages.

    We are not alone.
    This is a powerful grassroots movement. In addition to the IHM Sisters, who partnered with us in these meditations last month — and again this month — there’s another group of nationally influential green prophets in the far north of Michigan. We also encourage people to watch this Turtle Island Project. We’ve been recommending the Turtle Island site for months.
    Our friends in the Turtle Island Project are producing their own “green-theme” videos through their own YouTube channel now, which they call Turtle Island TV. Or, if you want to see their work in another online format, check out the Turtle Island videos on Blip-TV.

    In fact, if you’re reading this article right now and you’re part of this spiritually green movement — and you’ve got online voices and videos to share — click on the “Comment” link at the end of this story — or Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm directly.
    We’d love to hear from you and share links in this growing grassroots movement.

    One of the most pressing questions of our age is: “How should we rebuild our relationship to our planet?” You’ve seen the headlines. They’re everywhere. The global food crisis is being called a “silent tsunami.” And, if you’re following the heart-breaking tragedies in Myanmar, where a cyclone has killed thousands — and put millions of lives at risk — we’re all discovering that evil governments may not be our worst fear in the years ahead.
    Even the Bible scholar N.T. Wright in our single most popular story of the past month argues that we need an entirely new approach to global relationships.

    CLICK on the Video Screen below to view the first of three simple, short videos. We didn’t bring in professional actors to lead you through these meditations. We want you to meet B.J. and Margaret — women just like you and me. Listen to what they’ve put together here.
    If you want to order copies of their booklet, which you can use throughout the year in many outdoor settings, visit the IHM Sisters home page and click on the Publications tab.
    If your version of this story doesn’t show a video screen here, Visit YouTube directly to watch the first of the IHM Sisters’ videos.

    (PLEASE: Here’s a Special Note to our Monday-morning Planner Subscribers! We apologize for the math error in today’s Planner. Wednesday is the 10th (not the 20th) anniversary of the death of Frank Sinatra — and the final episode of “Seinfeld”! If you’d like to receive the free Monday-morning Planner — take a look at this sample and sign up.)

    COME BACK TOMORROW for more on the IHM Sisters and their work on pruning and fertilizing our spiritual lives.
    Don’t miss Wednesday, when we’ve got a very special treat: Direct from Scotland, we’ve got an in-depth interview with J. Philip Newell, the most influential of the neo-Celtic voices that are so popular around the world right now. He’s got a daring new book hitting bookstores within days, called “Christ of the Celts,” which may help to reshape this whole green-theology movement.
    Thursday, from a Buddhist perspective, we’ve got the popular Zen writer Geri Larkin, whose new “Plant Seed, Pull Weed” is a wise, fun, useful book — complete with recipes, believe it or not! (No kidding! You’ll want to try her recipe for dandelions. Trust me!) That same day, we’ll share a third video from the IHM Sisters.
    And Friday? We head back to Hollywood — for a very unusual review of “Prince Caspian” from the point of view of teen-agers who are likely to be the movie’s biggest fans.

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