Annual Conference Report
What does it mean to live the concept of Integral Ecology?
This year‘s outstanding Conference started and ended with prayer: Our first evening prayer settled us and reminded us, in music, that the Lord is Spirit and the Spirit gives life. Our Saturday morning prayer gave us time for silence together with the God of creation, in all its diversity and beauty. The final evening prayer brought us back to Earth Gazing, with time and peace for imaginative contemplation. Then our final closing worship epitomised the weekend with moving and memorable texts and a spiral taking us in and out of our experiences together.
In between these prayer times, our facilitator Julia McDonald – Ignatian practitioner and Director of St Bede’s Pastoral Centre in York – who is well known and loved by many, considered with us what it means to live the concept of Integral Ecology. In our sessions, input included films, video clips, music, story and poetry alternating with time for reflection on our own or in small groups. We looked at the challenges and invitations present in our day. The urgency of the crisis that pervades the imbalance in our personal, socio-economic and ecological situation was compared to being on the cusp of a transition, the Great Turning: from an industrial growth society to a life-sustaining society. This is a transition which we can choose to ignore or allow ourselves to experience.
Being aware of and open to the challenge will involve holding an inner tension, between fears and allowing those fears to surface painfully so that creative energies can be released. Here, as so many times over the weekend, we saw how Ignatian spirituality can guide us through the complexities of our situation. God can be our inner compass. Love, given, received and responded to by sharing, is the graced experience that will usher in the transformational change our world needs.
So we left in hope and trust, left a weekend that had been bursting with the beauty of autumn, returning home in the rain with gratitude and much to mull over, pray over and act on.