Reflections on Permaculture and Faith

I am constantly amazed at the parallels I find between my faith as a Christian and Permaculture. In Permaculture and the environmental movement there is the idea that there is a tipping point in time when enough people in the world recognise our destructive ways and start doing something about it so that the environment overall starts to be regenerated rather than destroyed, a point where the good we do starts to outweigh the bad. Christianity, of course, calls this turning from bad to good “repentance”. A traditional Christian viewpoint sees repentance as the point where we realise that we need to turn our life around, away from evil and death and towards goodness and life, away from the “Devil” and towards Christ. But in addition to this, the daily Christian life is about continuous turnings, daily repentance as we turn from the destructive towards the creative and the Creator.

The Greek word used in the Bible is metanoia and this word has been used in many ways but particularly in reference to “a change of mind”. In fact there is a movement of people who use metanoia to mean a turning from our affluent lifestyle to a life of “more with less”, a rejection of consumerism and materialism as the basis of progress.

The recent death of Margaret Thatcher has brought the Prayer of St Francis back into the news and reflecting on this prayer I realised that here we have a prayer for Christians and for the Permaculture movement. Here is my suggestion for an expanded version:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
Where there is greed, sharing;
Where there is violence, peace / shalom;
Where there is brokenness, wholeness and healing;
Where there is shortage, sufficiency;
Where there is scarcity, abundance;
Where there is over-consumption, rebuilding and regeneration;
Where there is sterility, fertility;
Where there is monoculture, biodiversity;
Where there is death, life;
Where there is destruction, creation.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Amen.

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