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Let your surroundings inspire change

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana nature trailThis is my view as I write. I’m near the water tower at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, not far from SMWC’s Hulman Hall, along a short path full of nature’s beauty.

I know the Sisters of Providence concluded daily Mass moments ago because I heard the noon bells chiming at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. I used my phone to capture this video and these photos for you. Enjoy a 28 second video of the bells here.At this time of day the sisters who live or minister here are on their way to the Providence Hall dining room for lunch. It’s rare for them not to enjoy fresh, organic mixed greens from their very own gardens this time of year. Asparagus from the garden was on the menu yesterday. Yum! The gardens also provide hands-on education for the interns who come here year round to learn the ins and outs of a working organic farm.

Not far from the hustle and bustle of those gardens is where I’ve thrown down a blanket along this path, kicked off my sandals and am pecking away on this laptop.

Some young Virginia Creeper leaves tickle my toes when a breeze comes along.

As I walked along the path before nestling in this spot I thanked God with each step for so much natural awesomeness smiling back at me.

The smell of honeysuckle is strong — better than any candle one could buy. I smelled the honeysuckle before I saw it. I paused and took a deep breath. Thank you, God, for the blessing of that unexpected fragrance.

Honeysuckle at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.Then I saw a Mulberry tree. It’s early, but there are some ripe berries. It reminds me of picking and eating them as a child. Thank you, God, for the berries and fond memories.

IMG_4820bThis blue butterfly flitters around the ground, pausing occasionally to show off her colors as she opens and closes her wings. Another blessing.

IMG_4849bThere are trees of many varieties in this small cove — Oak, Tulip, Locust, Maple and Sycamore, to name a few. My eyes search to investigate a rustling noise I hear off yonder. It’s a squirrel running back and forth on a tree limb. Isn’t this Sycamore tree beautiful?!

Sycamore tree at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.I can sometimes take the sounds of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods for granted, but in this moment I am paying attention to every bird’s song, frog’s croak and bee and mosquito buzz.

June 5 is World Environment Day (WED). It’s quite possible you’ve never heard of it, but it was first celebrated in 1974!

According to wed2016.com, WED is the United Nations’ most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. Above all, WED serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something to take care of Earth or become an agent of change. That ‘something’ can be focused locally, nationally or globally; it can be a solo action or involve a crowd.

This year’s theme, Go Wild for Life, shines a spotlight on the booming illegal trade in wildlife products which is eroding Earth’s precious biodiversity and driving whole species to the brink of extinction. The killing and smuggling are also undermining economies and ecosystems, fueling organized crime, and feeding corruption and insecurity across the globe, says the United Nations.

Don’t let the heaviness of the theme scare you off from making any small change that is doable in your life. A step in the right direction could be as small as considering a fair trade item from Linden Leaf Gifts the next time you give a gift. Something I’ve learned from the Sisters of Providence and the staff at White Violet Center for Eco-Justice is not to get overwhelmed by ALL that needs to be or can be done. Do what YOU can do in your corner of the world to protect the environment.

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin said, “We are not called upon to do all the good possible, but only that which we can do.”

Celebrate World Environment Day by making at least one change toward improving the environment in your little part of the world. Even if the first step is consciously putting yourself in nature to be aware of your surroundings and then see where that leads you!

Clover flower at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.


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Cheryl Casselman

Cheryl Casselman worked as a marketing manager for the Sisters of Providence for twenty years. She grew up in Camby, Indiana and now lives in Sullivan County, Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Indiana State University and master's degree in Leadership Development from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

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  1. Donna Butler on June 4, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Thank you Cheryl, for reminding us pf the role that wonder plays in motivating us to be more responsible toward the whole web of life.

    I am so enjoying Lang Elliot’s music of nature website on a daily basis. He records sounds of nature and I am learning a lot about birds and other creatures. I tried to put the link in this note but was not successful.

    • Cheryl Casselman on June 4, 2016 at 9:07 am

      I searched for the music and it is wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Here’s the link: http://musicofnature.com/

  2. Cheryl Casselman on June 4, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Thank you for taking time to send this note, Sister Donna. And thanks for sharing about the music. I’ll do a search and see if I can check it out. Have a good weekend!

  3. Carol Nolan on June 5, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    This sounds just so wonderful, Cheryl! The Woods is certainly unbeatable for the wonders of nature. I remember the wildflowers on the road and the woodpeckers near the conservatory, for starters.
    Think of us in our desert! We did go up 5,000 feet to Idyllwild on Memorial Day, where it was 25 degrees cooler than down here and where the mountains and evergreens reached to the sky. So wonderful!
    Right now it’s about 111 degrees outside, so we are staying in, but our morning prayer always includes basking in the beauty of our back yard with its trees, kitties and mockingbirds. 🙂 We truly are grateful for it all.

    • Cheryl Casselman on June 6, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Your morning prayer sounds wonderful, Sister Carol. I do think of you all (and your good work) often. When I visited you years ago it was the only time I’ve seen artichokes growing in a field and date trees. I think weeks with 111 degree days calls for a date shake!

  4. Lisa SP on June 7, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Love this, Cheryl. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Tracey Horan on June 19, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures, Cheryl! I know just the spot you were sitting in…Love that path into the woods!

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