This week my social media feed featured several references to the Sisters of St. Joseph in New Orleans, who are turning their giant former convent property into a water garden that will be a wetlands buffer against future storms.
“What we were doing is praying for an idea that would allow this land to keep ministering,” explained one of the leaders.
And the mechanism of the wetlands is a stark contrast to the levees, which are essentially walls built to hold the water back. With the nuns’ approach, the water flows through the system, with the filtering action of the wetlands slowing the volume down so that it can be gradually absorbed.
This story has me wondering two things. First, what is it that we have to give? We don’t all own acres within a flood-prone city, but we all have gifts of ministry, whether time or wisdom or kindness or property. If we prayed for an idea to allow for ministering, what might arise?
And second, I’m thinking about levees and wetlands. There are a lot of unpleasant things I’d rather hold at bay with a levee approach, building a strong barrier and avoiding them altogether. But that approach takes so much effort, and vigilance, and sometimes it catastrophically fails. What if our approach to the unwelcome parts of life looked more like a wetland, letting conditions wash over us and filter through with less damage? We’d get a little wet, but it might hurt less.
Dear ones, let’s learn from the nuns and the wetlands this week.
We can’t stop the rains, but we can bring a different spirit when the clouds roll in.
* Here is a link to more about the Sisters of St. Joseph plans.