Blog #132: Life Choices that Make a Difference

September 7, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
Today is September 7, and we are seven days into this year’s Creationtide, the period in the annual church calendar, from September 1st through October 4th, that is “dedicated to God as Creator and Sustainer of all life”. I have always marveled at the wisdom of the Christian churches to celebrate this season as part of our calendar: Introduced in 1989 as a concept by the late Patriarch Demetrios I, it was initially up to individual parishes to set a focus on God’s Creation and shine a light on our responsibility addressing, halting and reversing the perils of the planet, through learning, action, and prayer. Then, on September 1, 2015, the “Green Patriarch” Bartholomew I issued an encyclica to mark the occasion, and in an “ecumencial gesture of global significance”, Pope Francis announced also the Catholics’ recognition of September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for Creation.  The Archbishop of Canterbury followed suit, and since then we are part of a truely global community of people of  Christian faith who re-commit themselves every year to environmental stewardship, in thoughts, words, and deeds.
So what are we to do with the responsibility for Creation that God has bestowed in us? Well, there is always prayer we may think, and indeed, prayers center and connect us with Good, spoken in appreciation they can say thanks for what we have, prayers of awe can express how we marvel at the world around us, and prayers of fear or desperation can ask for help when we do not see a way forward in addressing the many environmental challenges that surround us. Of course, we also have the choice to do something concrete and practical about the pathways of resource overuse and environmental destruction that have been unfolding over the past decades. It’s a choice we have, and we are not the first or only ones to make such choices - even if they feel uncomfortable or may take us off the beaten path.

Foto: Reason for Hope is the title of the most recent documentary about and by Jane Goodall. I saw it a few weeks in a cinema in Boston. It's worthwhile checking out when it comes to museums or cinemas over here

I was reminded of this when I saw a new film about and by 89 year old Jane Goodall, the world-renowned researcher and primatologist. After 30 years of first-class research and  pathbreaking discoveries, realizing that the loss of nature that unfolded around her needed addressing, she stepped out of her career and became an activist, lobbyist, and educator. She set up a Foundation - the Jane Goodall Institute - mobilizing action, money and decisions for nature conservation. She also set up something called Roots and Shoots as a platform for awareness raising, educating and mobilizing among youth around the world. Adding to that books, lectures and films, Dr. Goodall’s influence has grown tremendously - and she was not leaving anything to chance. How did she do it? In the film, Dr. Goodall explains, quoting her mother, “if you are going to do a thing, give it all you have”. 
Next week, we will have the opportunity to meet someone up close and personal who also has made such a choice, stepping out of a career in business and dedicating herself to Nature Conservation. Nina Perrin is a member of the Austrian branch of the Jane Goodall Foundation, and she will join us for a Soundings on Tuesday, September 12, at 19:00 at the Church Centre. Nina will talk to us about the work she and her colleagues do here, in Austria, in awareness raising locally, in particular with youth, and in fundraising for conservation projects around the world. And she will reflect on the personal story of Jane Goodall - the Institute’s founder whom she knows well from her many visits to Vienna in pre-pandemic days. Do come along - Nina’s perspectives should be inspiring, if only because also she has made a choice several years ago that changed an otherwise somewhat predetermined path.
What will you choose - as you reflect about God’s ask to us during these days of Creationcare? Will there be life(style) choices, or will there even be life choices?
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