The Heartbeat of our Time

Listening to Earth’s Heartbeat

The Heart Beat of our Time…

There’s a Garden of Oneness in Zambia, an initiative of the Presentation Sisters, Africa!  It was dreamed and co-created with the village people by Sr. Terry Abraham, whom I met some years ago when I was with her community in Ireland.  We discovered that Terry from India and Mary from the US held in common a sacred awareness of our Oneness with the Creator and God’s Sacred Creation which we experience right here and now, “down to Earth”.  Everything and every being is Sacred because our God is intimately present and involved with us all. I would love to share with you here how Terry (along with Sr. Lucy her companion of the past 2 years) has embodied her desire to create a way to invite people into hearing the “Heart-beat of God” in all of Life and in ourselves.  .  Recently Terry shared the Garden story on “Global Sisters Report” sent out by the National Catholic Reporter. This is my version edited from Terry’s original paper.

We Are One

For me Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Si” is a celebration of  all those who  pioneered the vision of a single Sacred  Community and the Motherhood of  Earth. It is a wake-up call to humanity.  I felt very affirmed about the direction of our Congregation:  A   Spirituality of being in  Communion that SEEKS GOD in the interconnectedness of  all Life and promotes love  for  self, others, and all of nature.  Over the past two decades as The Presentation Community we have grown in awareness of and action on behalf of the integrity of creation.

With Pope Francis’ timely call and challenge we now respond with urgency and are committed to waking ourselves up and inviting others to wake up.  We have committed ourselves to take at least one  more step in all our various ministries to care for our  only home.

 Garden of Oneness  

Together with the  local  community we have initiated  a new ministry in rural Zambia by  creating a Sanctuary  of  Peace and  Harmony  called  Garden of  Oneness.  People are the co-creators and the immediate beneficiaries of this place. Here the land and creatures help us listen to the heart-beat of God in all of Life, to live the vision of mystics and teachers of our  story.  Here we are able to experience the dream of Jesus embodied:  ‘That all may be ONE.’   

We respond to the invitation of  Pope  Francis  to  awaken our hearts to the three fundamental relationships at the core of our life as humans: deeper   relationship with God, with  one  another and with  Earth.  We cannot experience God except in this home. When we sense  “this is holy ground”  we will treat each other with reverence  and  relate to everything  with a sense of sacredness. This is God’s temple, God’s temple is holy.  Pilgrim, listen! The heart of God is beating in everything.

This Garden   is a living expression of ( Laudato Si)  ‘All Life is Sacred, all Life is ONE.’  We engage in awakening programmes with local community, as well as national and international  groups on the  oneness and  sacredness of  all  life. Care of Earth in all her  diversity is  of paramount importance to us here as we believe any form of destruction of  creation  lacks in reverence for the Creator.  ‘Where the Earth is most wounded those made  poor  suffer  most’ so we cannot care for the poor without caring for the  Earth that sustains all life.

We collaborate with our District council, traditional leaders and  other   groups  in caring  for our natural  heritage.  We protect all indigenous  trees  in our  30 acre land and  during the  past three years  we planted  over two hundred  trees.  We are grateful for the wisdom of   mystics and teachers like John Muir who wrote ‘Trees are God’s first  temple’   We hold a Mubanga  tree in the  Garden as  a space to honour  our ancestors.  We listen to the wisdom of a tree in autumn as she invites us: ‘Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.’ Rumi

We grow our own vegetables and other things we need we try to buy locally.   We use    locally made traditional drinks  for functions. We use solar energy and hold this Garden as a  plastic-free zone.  We discourage the use of bottled water and invite people to use living  water  from the local  springs.  Children who have never seen the step of a school are in  school now.  Promoting ‘health in my hands’ awaken us to the reality ‘I am Earth’ and that  there is no problem which  Earth cannot  heal.  We facilitate learning together of the natural  healing powers of  our  mother  Earth.

During the Holy Week we integrated the  wisdom of the Laudato Si into  some of the formation programmes,  reflections  and   rituals.  On Good  Friday  we had   over  300 people  who  took part in  the  way  of the  cross and ritual through the wilderness  listening to the  heart beat of the One,  in Jesus of  Nazareth  and at the  heart of  creation.

New Work of Mercy 

Last year we celebrated the Year of mercy here in the Garden in an especially beautiful way.  We had a pilgrimage of a different sort—a mindful walking through the wilderness of this  sanctuary. Two big mango trees formed our Holy Door and we proclaimed: ‘Between two trees is a door way to a new world.’ and   ‘In God’s wilderness lies the hope of the world.’

Teresita Abraham PBVM



 Our Common Home is Our Only Home