Editorial January 2022
‘Our cry is for gentleness. Our cry is to know how to do what is right. Our cry is for courage. Our cry is for sobriety.’
In Taize, in November, a group of people gathered – all of them associated with the European Laudato Si’ Alliance (ELSiA). They gathered to reflect on what they had in common. They came with a sense of gratitude and Spirituality an awareness that this sense is bound up with encounter and relationship. ELSiA exists because of a whole network of relationships within and between its member organisations. They also came with a sense of hope and with a corresponding awareness that there is no need for hope if all is well. Hope and the possibility of discouragement go hand in hand.
Crying out is an expression of hope. To despair is to be silent. To hope is to call for help in the confidence that help is within reach. Those who gathered in Taize ended up with a letter signed by all of them and the four cries quoted above are the heart of this letter.
Gentleness is not just about being ‘nice’ or ‘sweet.’ It is the capacity to endure adversity without turning bitter. The challenge which we face, in seeking to care for our common home, can leave us discouraged and discouragement can easily turn to bitterness and self righteousness. The gentle person remains open to dialogue and to speaking (and not roaring) the truth to power.
Knowing how to do what is right calls for a willingness to learn. That willingness is tested not so much by our ability to understand as by our inability to see. The most valuable lessons are often about ourselves and, if we fail to learn them, we will stumble around the place making noise and achieving little.
Courage is about being ready to act or to refrain from acting. It always involves a decision. It is never a lashing out. It is gentle and thoughtful.
Sobriety is about doing without. It is the opposite of addiction. It does not condemn those who are ‘intoxicated.’ It is an expression of joy and comes with a certain ease.
We need to talk about these realities if we are to overcome two very real enemies – lethargy and rage. Let us be gentle. Let us come to know what is right. Let us have courage. Let us live with joy and sobriety.
Edmond Grace SJ
Secretary for Ecology