Day 16: Staying Rooted to Bear Fruit
BY BR. MARK MACKEY, S.J. | March 9, 2023
Working on behalf of the environment can feel chaotic and exhausting. Teaching and learning about the state of our planet’s biodiversity loss, the degradation of ecosystems, and the overarching threat of climate change—it can all quickly become overwhelming. One response can be to simply deny or turn away from the situation. Another can be to turn in on oneself and let the crippling tides of fear rise.
When I begin to feel overwhelmed lately, I have started thinking of a group of women on the other side of the planet from me. One of the unexpected joys of spending two summers in the Northeast region of India was getting to know Indian religious sisters who lived and worked there. These sisters worked impossible odds—a few Franciscan sisters running a hostel of 150 college students, a few Missionaries of Charity running a house for men with disabilities, a few Fernando sisters running an entire K-12 school. They did this in the face of constant power outages, abject poverty, monsoon seasons on dirt roads, stifling heat, mosquitos, even threats of militant groups. And yet, their lives and work were constantly flowered with smiles and laughter. Like trees planted near running water, they seemed to draw upon some hidden source.
I realized that instead of turning inward from very justified worries and fear, the sisters were constantly turned outward to others. They trusted radically that their needs would be provided. They trusted, yet also worked literally and figuratively in the garden. Above all, they turned to God. They started their chaotic days with Mass and spent rare breaks kneeling before a tabernacle, leading children in a rosary, and singing praise and worship songs together. Like Jeremiah’s tree planted near running water, they didn’t just survive, they bore fruit that sustained others.
- When feeling overwhelmed lately, where do you find yourself turning?
- What things in your life help you stay turned towards God?
- Do you have people in your life who seem to be rooted in healthy waters?
Br. Mark Mackey, S.J., is a Jesuit brother in the Jesuits’ Midwest province. Mark is a lecturer in Loyola University Chicago’s School of Environmental Sustainability where he teaches environmental science, eco-spirituality, and herpetology.
Praying together with a close friend, walking in nature and working with the Missionaries of Charity help me believe in God and share God’s love with others.
Humility and humble service to the needy are their mantras. Missionaries of Charity Sisters and Brothers are rendering yeoman service to the disabled, leprosy survivors, orphans, widows, the elderly, and other fellow mortals who are rejected, dejected, and ejected from society.