Rev Deacon Andrea Mayes reflects on how pastoral care can help our pain and our grief and become a community experience. How can we draw on resources from our faith to sustain and keep us moving?

On 19 July 2022 Australia’s most recent State of the Environment Report was released. It makes for very sobering reading

Overall, the state and trend of our environment in Australia is poor and deteriorating as a result of climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and resource extraction.

Over the last few years, the impact of climate change has become tangible through bush fires and floods. Perhaps you, like me, are having more conversations with friends and family about our environment and what is happening to it.

When we do have these conversations, we have the opportunity to offer pastoral care, which starts with listening carefully. Listening to what is said and listening to how people feel.
There can be a whole range of different emotions including sadness, anger, helplessness and denial.

As we offer pastoral care, we may also feel deep emotions ourselves. Listening to other people’s feelings can trigger our own grief or anger at the environmental problems and lack of action taken to address them. We need to sit gently with our own emotions and share them with our support people.

As we provide pastoral care and really listen and share, we open up a space where the pain and grief of what is happening to the environment becomes a community experience. It is no longer our own individual issue but something shared. A shared problem can then be addressed by shared action.

As we take action, we can draw on the resources of our faith to sustain us as we keep moving through grief, hope and action to address environmental degradation. Our faith reminds us that God loves the whole world. Jesus came to save all of creation and the Holy Spirit will keep comforting us and challenging us until justice is done and God’s new kingdom is fully visible on planet Earth.

By Rev. Deacon Andrea Mayes