Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach Blog Center

Awakening the Dreamer

Emily Van Etten, Environmental Justice Intern

sunset“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14

At the CCAO, we focus our efforts on care for the poor and care for creation. As we advocate for the issues Columbans value, we also strive to learn how they intersect and why our faith calls us to address them.

In an effort to expand our understanding of our mission, the CCAO staff and interns spent a day in retreat and reflection. We took time to celebrate our gifts and renew our spirit for our work of “challenging structures and changing lives.”

At our retreat, we watched a two-part video series called Awakening the Dreamer: Changing the Dream to explore the role people can play in creating a new future. Thanks to Youtube, you can watch Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The first part of Awakening the Dreamer details what some have called the Great Unraveling. As a piece of fabric begins to fray when neglected, the threads of our world are pulling apart from the carelessness toward the environment and poor and vulnerable communities. The climate, nation-states, economies, and even our relationships within our communities are unraveling. High-speed technologies, coupled with voracious appetites for fossil fuels and material goods, leave our heads spinning while we drown in pollution and trash. Within this storm of discontent, we hear the cries of the poor and marginalized and respond crisis to crisis, with a growing sense of unease. We are overwhelmed.

In 1995, the Achuar people of the Amazon were also overwhelmed by the destruction caused by modern society extracting resources from the land. Rooted in indigenous wisdom and integrated with modern knowledge, they invited international groups to partner with them to preserve their land while changing the dream of the modern world. They produced this video series to wake up modern society to see the need for a new world view that honors and sustains life.

The second part of Awakening the Dreamer details the Great Turning toward a life-sustaining society. We are hopeful because this is happening now. Through our partnerships with the Catholic Climate Covenant, the Justice for Immigrants Campaign, Jubilee USA Network, and Pax Christi International, Columbans are part of the critical mass of conscious commitment that can create a positive future. The video says, “This is a commitment to transforming our systems and structures that separate us, and to transforming our relationships with ourselves, with one another, and with the natural world.”

After watching the videos, we felt overwhelmed by the degree of unraveling in our society and in environment, but we are eager to show our courage and commitment to change. The video concludes with the challenge to imagine your great-great-great-grandchild asking, “What did you do to help, at the time of the Great Turning?”

We made time for personal reflection and small group sharing about the intersection of the answers to two questions: What are you doing when you feel most fully alive? and What are the greatest needs of the world and my community? Many of us were pleased to discover these two questions overlap; we can address community needs using our passions and our gifts.

As St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, we are called to awaken and rise up to the light of Christ. Now we are awake, and our eyes are open to the unraveling and the turning, and the light of Christ guides our path to change. How will we respond?