“My life has been fully committed to raising awareness of global injustices and in taking action, where I am guided, to ensure that the voices of those denied their fundamental human rights are represented. In recent years, that awareness has included climate justice and rights of our environment. It is only lately that I have awakened to the realities of the impact of biodiversity loss and its critical role in sustaining life on this planet.
Recently, I had the privilege of experiencing first-hand the exquisite beauty and tranquillity of An Tairseach Organic Farm and Ecology Centre nestled within Wicklow Town in ‘The Garden of Ireland’, County Wicklow. My timing in visiting An Tairseach was informed by wanting to also experience the prophetic wisdom of the popular geologist, botanist, author and broadcaster John Feehan. John was facilitating a 4-day workshop entitled, “Every Bush Aflame. God and the Natural World” (see also John’s book with the same title). During one of the Autumn short courses at An Tairseach, John explored the essence of our understanding of creation as intimately connected with nature and biodiversity, as emphasised in Pope Francis’ 2015 seminal encyclical, Laudato Si. Meticulous in his empirical evidence and analysis, John aminated the core principles of Laudato Si and critically, our shared responsibilities in responding to and caring for ‘our common home’.
An Tairseach, ‘threshold’ in Irish, is the creative initiative of the Dominican Sisters who have been established educators in Wicklow for more than 150 years. Today, their charism as educators lives on in their commitment to raising awareness of and care for ‘our common home’. More than 2 decades ago, the sisters had already heard and recognised the ‘cry of the earth’ and responded directly to its call. Beginning in the 1990s, long before Laudato Si, their dream was to establish an ecological project that would incorporate sustainable organic farming and farming methods, wildlife conservation and an ecological education centre that would be reflective of Christian spirituality. That vision became a reality as An Tairseach.
I spent two peaceful days at An Tairseach (re)discovering my connection within the intricate web of life and my existence and role within this. Each morning, this began with a grounding through reflective prayer meditation in the magnificent cosmic garden, designed to imagine the experience of the 13.7 million year story of our universe, and ourselves within this. I was awakened to my connection with nature and biodiversity and my responsibility to nurture this relationship. Critical in this awareness was exploring the surrounding beauty at An Tairseach, as embodied through its organic farm, and the farm produce hosted in the Organic Farm Shop on site. The stunning location of the Ecology Centre just steps away from the Irish Sea strengthens our connection to the vastness of our oceans and the realities of its cries.
Unfortunately, I was only able to stay for one night in the Centre’s welcoming accommodation and homely culinary delights. However, this short experience was just enough to recalibrate my ecological consciousness and to remind me of my responsibility as custodian of God’s creation.”
Toni Pyke – JPIC Coordinator (AMRI)
To watch The Story of An Tairseach video click here.