The first of September is the beginning of the Season of Creation, several weeks designated to honor, highlight and improve the natural world. It is a global effort, initiated and organized by faith communities, and runs through the fourth day of October, the Feast of St. Francis (the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment). During this season, organizations and individuals are asked to commit to creation care in different ways, from prayer services to sustainability events to major lifestyle changes. The 2019 theme is the Web of Life, with the purpose of recognizing the value of all life on the planet. This seems very appropriate given the 2019 United Nations report indicating a very real threat of extinction for nearly a million different species.
One way to better understand and value the immense complexity and beauty of nature is to watch the video series Planet Earth/ Planet Earth II and Blue Planet/ Blue Planet II, available on Netflix. These are described as “visually stunning” for which I whole-heartedly agree. Another new video on nature and the impacts of climate change, also available on Netflix, is Our Plant. These videos enable all of us to view and learn about places and creatures on the earth we could never visit or encounter. These films are true treasures and incredibly valuable for a better understanding of the web of life and nature’s balances.
Other ways to connect with nature to appreciate the web of life include hikes, evening stargazing, and planting bulbs, bushes or trees. The more we connect with nature, the more we are inclined to protect and care for it. When we see nature only as something to manipulate for our own satisfaction, we disrupt parts of the web of life, the beautiful balance in nature. I strongly suggest viewing one or more of these incredible videos and invite a child, family member or friend to join. Then, consider what else you can do during the Season of Creation to show your appreciation to the Creator. You can check out the website for the season of creation: seasonofcreation.org.
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.