What experience have you had of being in nature – whether as a child or
adult? Share with the group one joyful moment and one moment where
you were shocked by environmental neglect.
The Green Schools Programme was set up by the Church of South India to inspire a new generation about the importance of safeguarding the environment.
As well as learning the theory, pupils and staff are encouraged to put what they are learning into practice by carrying out a ‘green audit’ of their school.
Hermani, aged 16, gave USPG a tour of her school – St Hilda’s School, Ooty, in the Diocese of Coimbatore – and offered this commentary as she walked around the compound.
‘I’m going to show you the rainwater harvesting system. Not a drop of water
is wasted in our school. Rainwater is collected from the roofs of all the buildings then stored in these tanks, then it can be used for the toilets, gardening, and cleaning the school and the school buses. It rains a lot so we have a lot of water.
‘This is our kitchen. It runs with gas from the school’s bio-gas plant. These are the cookies our school makes – we enjoy them so much!
‘And over there are our solar panels. We use solar energy to heat six water heaters which heat all the water for our school.’
Hermani said the school uses palm leaves or stainless steel plates, not plastic or paper. Computers and lights are switched off when not in use. And the school garden uses organic fertiliser.
She explained: ‘People live in this world as though they had another planet
to go to when our resources run out! But the Green Schools Programme has
taught me to how to save electricity and water, how to plant trees, and how to be environmentally-minded. I think it’s good for us to learn that it’s our duty to protect the environment.’
This alternative version of the parable of the lost sheep was conceived by presbyter Charlie Shanthakumar, whose original version appears in the book Green Parables, published by the Church of South India.
The politicians, industrialists and religious leaders gathered around to hear the Lord. And Jesus said to them, ‘Suppose there were 100 ponds in a village used for cultivation.
‘Due to bad planning, one of the ponds was used as a dump. All kinds of waste and plastic were thrown into this pond, which quickly became dirty and smelly and a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
‘But because the remaining 99 ponds met all the villagers’ needs for fresh water and fish, the people decided they could live with the pond that had become an eyesore.
‘One day, an environmentalist visited the town and when he saw the pond he was shocked and called together all the local politicians to discuss what to do.
‘Though all 99 other ponds required ongoing maintenance, the environmentalist and the politicians gathered all the villagers to help revive the dead pond. They worked together joyfully and cleaned up the pond.
‘Then the rains came. Fish flourished in the revived pond. Birds came and sang their songs. And the land around the pond became green and thrived – so the whole village rejoiced.’
Then the Lord said, ‘I tell you, in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over this one pond saved than in having the other 99 useful ponds.’
Take a moment to settle.
Adjust your posture so that you feel relaxed but alert.
Close your eyes if you feel comfortable to do so.
Give yourself permission to be still and open to God’s presence.
Try to let go of the ‘chattering mind’ – it may help to focus your attention on your breath and the sensation of air flowing in and out of your lungs – knowing God is with you.
Know that your life is in God and God’s life is in you.
Continue to abide in God’s presence.
Know in your heart that you are loved and accepted by God exactly as you are.
God understands your hopes and your struggles – and delights in you.
Become aware of the physical world – our planet – in all of its wonderful diversity and variety:
Sense your appreciation for the world we live in.
Sense your appreciation for the hospitality of the planet which shares its bounty with us.
Know that the planet needs our care.
Human disregard has polluted the air, land, seas and rivers, poisoning plants and wildlife.
Take a moment to imagine the pain of the planet – and feel your compassion…
Holy God, thank you for the world you have entrusted to our care:
for the beauty and inter-connectedness of all life.
Help us to be responsible stewards of Creation,
and work together for the preservation of the earth.