CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME
By Sue Martin, Assistant Coordinator, Reconciliation with Creation, The Society of Jesus in Australia.
The IM23 I am A Tree of Life; a convocation of people with spiritual exercises, forest contemplations and conversations, using the life of a tree as a metaphor for an organic spirituality, sponsored by the Jesuit Ignatian Spirituality Australia and hosted by JISA’s Being with God in Nature and First Spiritualty Exercises Ministries, was a truly transformative experience. Despite being held virtually via Zoom, the convocation managed to create an immersive environment that allowed us to explore the metaphor of our spiritual life as a tree. Over the course of four days, we delved into the depths of our roots, witnessed the growth of our branches and leaves, marvelled at the beauty of our flowers, and embraced the power of our seeds. Our mantra was “And this too is my spiritual life”.
The convocation kicked off with an insightful exploration of our roots. Through guided meditations and reflective spiritual exercises, we were encouraged to mark Laudato Si’ week, which had a theme ‘hope for the earth, hope for humanity”, by delving into the experiences that have shaped us.
As the convocation progressed, we were taken on virtual walks through the enchanting forests of Tasmania. The imagery and sounds of nature, expertly captured and shared with us, created a sense of connection and serenity. We learned to appreciate the strength and resilience of trees, drawing inspiration from their ability to weather storms and adapt to changing environments. This reminded us that, like trees, we too have the capacity to endure hardships and emerge stronger on the other side.
The convocation also introduced us to a variety of individuals who embodied the different aspects of the tree metaphor. We met flower farmers who spoke passionately about the importance of nurturing and tending to the delicate blossoms of life. Sculptors, dancers, and artists shared their creative processes, reminding us that our spiritual journey is a form of artistic expression that requires dedication, exploration, and a willingness to take risks.
Throughout the convocation, we were encouraged to reflect on our own lives as trees. We were invited to identify the areas where we have grown, the beauty we have brought into the world, and the potential we hold within us. We were reminded that each of us carries unique seeds that can be planted and nurtured, spreading love, compassion, and positive change.
In the end, the IM23 Tree of Life convocation was a powerful reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings and the beauty that lies within each of us. We gathered from eleven countries. Despite the limitations of a virtual setting, the convocation organisers skilfully created an environment that fostered growth, reflection, and a deep sense of community. As we logged off Zoom at the end of each day, we carried with us a renewed sense of purpose, a deeper understanding of our roots, and a profound appreciation for the metaphorical tree that is our spiritual life.
Feature photo by Pixabay on Pexels.