An Oldenburg Franciscan Sister since 1963, Marya Grathwohl lived for more than 30 years in African American, Crow and Northern Cheyenne communities, as teacher, principal and pastoral minister. While on her congregation’s leadership team, she initiated the revitalization of her community’s farm in Indiana, which employs integrated natural farming methods with vegetable gardens, chickens and heritage breed cattle. As founding director of Earth Hope, she was consultant for a women's center in Northern Cheyenne country, developing wind and solar energy, ground-source heating and cooling and native prairie restoration. Earth Hope provides a Cosmology Program for use in jails and prisons in California, New York and Missouri. Grathwohl gives retreats, workshops and lectures that help people connect their faith with ecology and is currently finishing her first book, After the First Thunder: A Spiritual Journey into Convent, Cosmos and Care of Earth.
In early November, Lakota Sioux Therese Martin celebrated her 100th birthday in the crowded parish hall at Fort Yates, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. To all gathered she said, "To see my people standing up for our rights, makes me so proud. Whenever I read about the water protectors at the camps along the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers, I pray they fight to the bitter end."
Sonoma County, California, Adult Detention Facility. Veteran volunteer, Cece Gannon, retired teacher and therapist, teaches the course. We had designed the 14-week course together in 2008, using materials written by Brian Thomas Swimme, Ph.D. However, in the several years since, the course usually extends to over three months because discussion gets so involved.
It is 6:30 a.m., January 21, and I am standing in the dark beside a Swiss Guard, a heavy grey cape covering his colorful uniform. "There," I say, pointing to my name on his list. I show him my passport. Following his directions, we walk over black shiny cobblestones around a towering side wall of St. Peter's looking for the entrance to the chapel where Pope Francis offers his daily, private Mass.
Twenty years ago I was in a small group visiting with geologian Thomas Berry. We got to talking about the deplorable state of the planet. Our stories, statistics and images of widespread destruction, abject poverty, species loss and war piled high on the table around which we crowded. Many heavy sighs. “It’s hard not to despair,” someone said. I nodded slowly. Thomas cut in: “Despair is a luxury we can’t afford right now.”