“In order to live in harmony with the earth and to promote responsible stewardship we commit ourselves to choosing a life-style that will give witness to our love of the earth.” ~ Philosophy of Land Use
When we adopted our Philosophy of Land Use statement in 1993 we included this assertion that we believe there is a strong connection between our Benedictine value of living simply and our commitment to caring for the land. We gaze around us at the abundance of creation knowing that it is all gift from a loving Creator and we can be confident that there are sufficient resources available to provide for our needs. Since there is enough for tomorrow, we need to take only what is necessary for today. In other words, we promise to live simply.
How easy it is to forget that everything that makes our lives possible and pleasant comes from the earth. We become distracted by the abundance of products displayed in stores, catalogs, and pantries. But where did all of that really come from? The answer is quite straight forward. Some part of creation, whether minerals, water, plants, or animals was used to produce it. There is a moral question involved in every purchase we make. Do I need this item enough to justify what it cost the earth to produce it? We express our gratitude for the earth’s self-sacrifice in providing what we need by acting responsibly in our use of its resources. Yes, our planet is resilient but it is also finite. And we share it with many others. So we choose to live simply so others may simply live.
St. Benedict left some wise advice for his communities of monastics. He assured them that they would receive what they needed in order to live a healthy, meaningful life but they were not to hoard or make unnecessary demands. He had no tolerance for complaining or being envious. As Psalm 4 reminds us: “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house.” A satisfied, grateful person has no need to grab for an unnecessary excess of the earth’s resources.
Nestled deep in the heart of the Book of Proverbs we find this prayer that reflects the admonition of Benedict.
Give me neither poverty nor riches,
provide me only with the food I need.
Lest, being full, I deny you saying,
“Who is the Lord?” Or, being in want, I
steal, and profane the name of my God.
In a similar vein Jesus taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” When we have this confidence in God’s love and daily care for us then we can trust in the abundance of creation and order our lives in such a way that we are truly walking gently on this earth.