Submitted by Gillian Elcock
On October 18, at the Rollo Centre, members of Gabriola Ecumenical Society were treated to a day of Thomas Berry and his teachings by Mike Bell and Maureen Wild.
RED Maureen and Mike enhMike Bell   was a student of Thomas Berry, lived with him in the monastery and has spent most of his life applying Berry’s teachings to his organizing work.

Maureen Wild  In 1987 she was introduced to the writings of Thomas Berry through a course on Ecological Ethics, and she later came to know him and experience his lectures firsthand.  Thomas’ teachings continue to have an ongoing and profound impact on her way of seeing the world.

Thomas Berry was a far-sighted mentor, author, and monk of the Passionist Order who, for a time was silenced by his church for his earth-based spiritual views which were considered radical at the time. Besides monk, he is also described as a geologian, scholar, and shaman who spent many years studying world religions, including those of indigenous peoples who have long understood human interconnectedness with the Earth.

He came to see that all of creation is related, interdependent, and that there is no separation between humans and everything else. In the film “Awakening the Dream” we were asked: “What spell have we fallen under that allows us to destroy what we are dependent upon?” Thomas calls us to our Great Work which requires us “to awaken from our dream of lonely isolation” and realise that humans are earthlings, that we need Planet Earth, and that there is no Planet B to escape to.

Thomas Berry put forth an evolving view that humans urgently need to move from an “anthropocene era” where earth has been seen as a material resource for us to use, to the “ecozoic era” with the understanding that we need a healthy planet to live, and we must find ways to fit in sustainably.

This evolution will require a massive change in human consciousness as we awaken to a new cosmology, a new story about ourselves and all of creation. We are “between stories” and engaged on “a long journey that will take us from our heads to our hearts to our hands” as we begin to take action to change.

How do we do this in the face of global ecological crisis? We can reflect on our lives, our communities, and try to do what we can, where we are, “in the time remaining to us”. We hope that we have enough time.

A very big thank you to Maureen Wild and Mike Bell (ex-Passionist monk and priest) who both knew Thomas Berry as mentor and friend, who gave us an informative, inspiring, and thought-provoking day. I hope the journey will be continued.