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May Sabbatical Update from Fr. Rob



May 2, 2024


Dear St. Paul’s Community,

 

Before sitting down to write you my final letter of this sabbatical time away I did my morning prayer routine of Lectio Divina (a contemplative way of reading the Bible) and Centering Prayer. In so doing, I discovered that the Gospel passage appointed for today comes from John’s Gospel:

 

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

 

This has been the whole hope, aim, and goal of my time away – to rest in God and to let God transform me more fully into God’s image however God wants. And I’ve done it intentionally through the study and exploration of all of God’s Creation (not just what humans have made of it). My guiding texts have been the Bible, Laudato Si and Laudato Deum.


In immersing myself in God’s Creation – primarily our oceans – I have learned a ton about biodiversity, which is the natural world around us, and the variety of all of the different kinds of organismsthe plants, animals, insects and microorganisms  – that live on our planet. Every one of these live and work together in ecosystems to maintain and support life on earth, and they exist in a beautiful, delicate, and intricate balance.

 

Why is biodiversity important? Biodiversity is one of the most precious and important things we have here on planet Earth. We tend to think of it as something that’s just nice to look at, and maybe to enjoy spending time in, but it’s actually so much more. Without biodiversity, our entire support system for human, as well as animal life, would collapse. We rely on nature to provide us with healthy food and clean water and air, for a lot of medicines, and to prevent flooding and other extreme weather effects. So much is provided by the natural ecosystems around us – all of which are truly vital to life on earth. It’s been fun to try to become part of the biodiversity that is God’s Creation, instead of just thinking about it or talking about it.

 

I’ve been very fortunate to dive and explore in some beautiful places, and to learn from some brilliant and faithful scientists. And before I see you on Sunday, June 2nd I will have also been diving in the Bahamas (coral reef and wall dives, the Tongue of the Ocean, the Lost Blue Hole, and Shark Alley), and Belize (Ambergris Caye, Turneffe Atoll, and the Great Blue Hole).

 

I hope, somehow, to help get people fired up about taking much better care of this fragile earth, our island home (Eucharistic Prayer C). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we would care for God’s creation the way we do our own children when they are growing up? Aren’t they both magnificent gifts from God?

 

Going forward, in addition to the faith-focused service and learning dive trips I mentioned in my last letter, I also hope to help in the process of making Cashes Ledge a fully protected national marine sanctuary, and I hope you’ll join me.

There are no words that can possibly convey my deep and abiding gratitude to you for giving me this time away. It has been a gift beyond measure, and I’ll be coming back to you energized in marvelous new ways. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

I can’t wait to see you on June 2nd! I’ve missed you!

 

Much Love,

Rob

 

 

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