Grassroots Ministry: Presence to Earth
Michael Gross (Americas): 'Presence of Earth and to Earth for humans and all Earth creatures'
When I agreed to participate in this initiative many months ago, I had no idea how I would address this topic. What does presence of Earth and to Earth mean? I’m a scientist – my mind does not deal with ideas like this. And in those cold dark days of December, there were not too many Earth creatures moving about to inspire me.
But then the pandemic happened, bringing that part of the Earth known as SARS-CoV-2 much more present into our lives than we would have liked, raising our awareness of the many inequities among the many humans on Earth – some have better access to healthcare, some have jobs forcing them to be around other people who may be infected with an invisible deadly disease, some are in societies where there is no safety net when a pandemic-induced shutdown deprives them of their livelihood. At my GPS coordinates on Earth, we went into confinement in the middle of March. A wonderfully exciting time for a biologist, specifically a plant ecologist like me, who needs to be outside. At 40 degrees North Latitude and 75 degrees West Longitude, Earth “creatures” are re-awakening and new lives are emerging at an ever-increasing rate each day. Those of us who were trained to observe the world around us can’t bear to be inside, away from our DNA kin.
I was thankful to be designated “essential” so I could come to work each day and water the plants in the university’s greenhouse. Thankful that I work on a 150-acre mostly “green” campus, a university sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, with an arboretum, water bodies, gardens, forests….all teeming with life. And then, like many others, I began to realize the unexpected beneficial consequences of how my world had just changed. What new things was I going to be able to do? What new opportunities would I have, given a shift in my responsibilities and how I worked and lived? What new ways would I find to use the precious gift of time? How will I be challenged by these new circumstances and how will I respond?...
Spanish translation by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Traducción al español por las Hermanas de la Misericordia de las Américas
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Michael F. Gross is Professor of Biology and Director of the Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum of Georgian Court University. (Michael also serves as Associate Provost for Academic Program Development at the university).
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