As I’ve strolled around our local parks in my daily walk with God, I’ve noticed many lovely black and white birds. “Which one of them is a magpie?” I wondered, “Which one a peewee?” and “Which one a butcher bird?” While some of you may resonate with my easy distraction from God, hopefully you will also identify with reconnecting to God’s creation in a deeper way.
I had been disturbed by the way society, pre-COVID, was hurtling towards environmental catastrophe as we (including many people of faith) consumed more and more. It seemed to me a misguided attempt to find happiness and fulfilment in things and experiences. But my marvelling at magpies and peewees has helped me wonder whether COVID 19 could, in fact, be a blessing in disguise – a chance for us all, and perhaps especially for people of faith, to re-imagine what a good life, of loving God, neighbour and our common home, looks like.
When I encountered the Dharma (the teachings of the Buddha) in the late 1980s I was already concerned about climate change and consumerism. I was immediately struck by two of the ethical guidelines that all Buddhists undertake to observe as faithfully as possible.
“I’m off to see my son and grandchildren in the US next week!”
“I can build great networks at conferences overseas. So I’m going to Rome next month.”
“We love skiing, so we’re going to Japan next winter!”
Acting on climate change is a complex thing, especially when it involves our international travel.