Sister Joan Brown’s Reflections from Copenhagen, Part 1

Dec 4, 2009 | Copenhagen

Find more reflections from Sr. Joan Brown.
Find out more about the faith community’s involvement in the UN Climate Change Conference.

S. Joan Brown

Sister Joan Brown, OSF, Director of New Mexico IPL

Never did I imagine when growing up on the farm in Kansas that I would be headed to Copenhagen for an international meeting. Nor, did I ever think I would be addressing the concerns of climate change and its effects upon the earth community. As Dorothy from the movie The Wizard of Oz says, “Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore”. Places like Kansas, New Mexico and many islands and continents on the planet are also beginning to not recognize themselves.

My name is Joan Brown, osf, a Franciscan sister, Director of the New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and a Franciscans International Volunteer Delegate to the International Climate Change Meeting who will be traveling to Copenhagen December 6, returning December 20.

So, why am I going to Copenhagen? What difference will it make? Does this trip justify the carbon footprint?  I am conscious of my carbon footprint. I cannot anticipate what difference this trip makes. Finally, I travel to Copenhagen out of a call.

It is a call to be one small person of faith joining with other interfaith voices to say yes to life on Earth. While scientists, corporate interests and politicians hold the ear of the public, dramatic actions have not transpired and there is even increasing polarization. Climate change is the greatest moral, ethical and spiritual concern of our time. Soul sized concerns require choirs of voices raised in continuing choruses for life. All creation awaits the songs, hymns and chants carrying prophetic, courageous and hopeful words directing hearts to mindful action.

Heart and Soul Climate Changes

Perhaps the greatest climate change yet to come is the climate change of the soul and heart. A climate change of the soul invites us to take our identity seriously. We are humans, humus beings, loved into life by a God of many traditions and names who invites us into adult responsibility as members of the sacred earth community.

St. Francis of Assisi, Patron of Ecology, proclaims all creatures, elements and humans as brother and sister in his Canticle of Brother Sun. To really know in our souls and hearts that we are truly brothers and sisters with even the mosquitoes requires conversion that leads to changes in lifestyle and policy. Humans have a much nobler destiny, I believe, than to be shoppers and consumers. We are part of the anima mundi, the soul of the world. We rest in the heart of God, Allah, Buddha and from this place we hear our vocation collectively and individually to live in harmony for the integrity of creation and the future.

St. Francis called followers to “Preach the Gospel – and if you must use words.”  Perhaps a prayerful and moral and spiritual presence in Copenhagen is what is most needed. Perhaps each of us wherever we are these weeks and  months are invited to live reflective, mindful lives that allow for conversion, transformation and actions of love and hope for Earth and the future.

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