The New Year (2016) has just rounded the corner, putting us again to the task of a new series of resolutions about making life become better, bigger, and happier than it has been. It’s remarkable that so many of us go through this routine year after year, reformulating the resolutions about what we’re going to be and do. But we seldom succeed. If we compared this exercise to a ball player’s batting average, it would be around 180. And this is nothing to brag about.
Perhaps we have to engage in this process differently, for we are not hitting the ball successfully. This process could possibly begin with an automobile drive through some areas of the countryside, in a number of our states, that have begun to feature huge windmills, sometimes extending over large areas of land for several miles–gigantic windmills, with impressive dimensions extending over several miles, presenting what initially stand as an ugly eyesight, compared to the pleasant farmland they’ve replaced. But, their saving feature is that they’re productive energy resources, which more than compensate those who have invested time, money, genius and perseverance in supporting this new energy resource, to complement traditional energy resources that are diminishing, such as coal, oil, gas, waterways. For wind can be an effective and economic generator of electric power, for instance.
Why is it that it took us so long to discover and take advantage of such an available energy resource? For the Dutch have successfully done so for decades. Surely we have felt the power of wind sweeping across the landscape, bending tree limbs to the point of breaking, even stopping us in our tracks, especially if we live in such windswept areas as residents of the “windy city” do.
Eventually a consortium of like-minded persons emerged to collaborate to take advantage of this overlooked energy resource, developing it into a helpful energy source to meet our energy needs. And, for the most part, this resource is not significantly injurious to the landscape, other than withdrawing the land on which it sits from agricultural use, and, in the estimation of some, turning it into an ugly blemish on what had been a pleasing pastoral scene.
It is likely that Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter extolling the role of mother nature in our overall well-being can strengthen this innovative development, supporting his attempt to elevate our esteem of nature in our overall assessment of helps available to us to live in a way that is responsive to our available resources. In recent decades, we have been so preoccupied with improving on what nature can provide us in our effort to lead satisfactory lives that we have left unexplored and untapped resources untapped within nature, that can reward our attention. The Catholic tradition in the area of moral theology has called upon “natural law” as a fundamental guide in discerning goodness and evil in human behavior and conduct, and natural law is nothing other than an appreciation of mother nature to help us in addressing the dilemmas of moral goodness and evil. The Pope’s letter, entitled LODATO SI, (“Worthy of praise and esteem”) carries on this tradition of appreciating nature in its genesis and development as instructive in our understanding of how things ought to be.
So, as we stand on the cusp of a New Year in our lives, we again face the formidable task of making this year better than previous years have been. The “discovery” of wind-power as an answer to our diminishing energy supply should bolster our conviction that ways and means are available, remaining to be (re-)discovered, in our effort to fortify New Year resolutions to achieve some improvements in our lives, possibly goals that we have consistently failed to accomplish. The reassessment of wind-power is a simple example of an overlooked resource, in this regard. We may be recharting a nautical development that itself was an improvement on sailing the seas, replacing the wind-dependent sailing vessel with the steam engine. It may call for a renewed appreciation of one of nature’s primal forces (the wind) to reappropriate a place in powering over the oceans, in conjunction with nuclear generated sources of power and energy.
To enrich our appreciation of nature’s resiliency as an energy resource, we can enrich it with a faith reflection pat to the purpose of commencing a New Year enriched with God’s role in empowering us. This flows from our Catholics, and indeed Christian, understanding of the mystery of God as trinitarian, that is, as one God Who is a trinity of Persons. And our appreciation of One of these Persons as the Spirit of God, whom we frequently identify as God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity. For the most part, most of us have a poor record at acknowledging the role of the Holy Spirit, in our lives, perhaps in a way comparable to our recent oversight of the significance of wind as an empowering element in mother nature. And, yet as God’s Holy Spirit, He is identified as the energy, the power, and the pent-up potential of God available to us throughout our life. He is the divine resource to move us ever closer to our destiny with God facing us at death. We might enrich our New Year’s resolutions by invoking God’s Holy Spirit to empower us in this New Year of 2016. For the Holy Spirit, as God, is an inexhaustible energy resource Whose power is comparable to wind, for did not those assembled together on Pentecost Sunday share this experience: “…there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”? (Acts2.1-4)
We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.