Laudato Si’ Animator Sally Simpson’s garden offers guests a space where they can contemplate creation and be inspired by nature to care for our common home.
Long before I was a Laudato Si’ Animator, I had a passion for sustainability and tried to live according to those principles. In fact, in 1980, I had a passive solar-heated house that uses and stores solar energy without the need of solar panels.
But retiring in 2020 has allowed me to invest more and more of my time into bringing Laudato Si’ to life, a true passion of mine as a Laudato Si’ Animator. When I retired, I started a Laudato Si’ Book Club with Laudato Si’ Movement’s Jane Mellett. The book club was a “wow” experience that brought together my love of nature, creation, and God, to the point where it was all inseparable.
From there, my climate activism only grew. I continually saw how things were interconnected when I took the Laudato Si’ Animators course and began applying that knowledge in my community. I introduced the book club at church, and suggested to the parish that we do something regarding sustainability and the environment.
But I was devastated when the response was a resounding “no.”
Yet I remained hopeful and relied on the strong community of Laudato Si’ Animators. I had done the Laudato Si’ Animators course with three nuns from Uganda who were working in Mali.
I confided in them about how it was such an uphill battle at my parish, and they said that they would pray for me. One month later in my parish, when I proposed that we do something to honor and celebrate the Season of Creation, the response was, “Brilliant–let’s do it!”
The Holy Spirit was truly active in my life and my parish! During the Season of Creation, the annual Christian celebration of prayer and action for our common home, I worked with the parish priest and parishioners, and we made an enormous banner to post on the church’s facade.
We used local flowers and a recycling-themed arrangement. The choir collaborated by singing music that was picked specifically for the Season of Creation. We featured special weekly prayers and worked with local media to bring attention to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
We also contacted schools and asked for new students starting a school cycle to each plant a bulb to mark their fresh start. The initiative was implemented in the primary schools!
I’ve also started a self-sustaining fruit and vegetable garden. People can spend time in the garden listening to what God is saying through nature, and we’ve started hosting retreats throughout the year. It is amazing how being truly present and admiring God’s creation can be so potent.
As a Laudato Si’ Animator, I have loved participating in Laudato Si’ Movement webinars and other activities. I’m thrilled about becoming an Animator of Animators! An “AofA” is a Laudato Si’ Animator that takes further training in coaching, leading teams, and supporting grassroots growth to help support other Animators in their region. Through the program, I have a sense of networking, community, church, and of belonging to something bigger.
Being an Animator of Animators for Laudato Si’ Movement also gives me credibility and confidence as I work to further bring Laudato Si’ to life. With my personality, if I want something I become very passionate about it and I’m going to find a way to get it done. Though I often feel a sense of urgency, I am constantly reminded that things will happen in the Lord’s time.
We want authentic conversion–not just ticking boxes and getting numbers. You don’t have to be somebody special to make a difference–we can all do something. As St. David, the patron saint of Wales, said, “Do small things well.”
Since I retired, I have taken many Laudato Si’ Movement courses and webinars and loved the materials. I was astonished when I was asked to be an Animator of Animators, but I excitedly took on the new challenge one month ago. I have seen that you end up meeting the same people and have a sense of networking,community, of church, and belonging to something bigger.
I am excited to be involved in the upcoming Animators course. I suggested that we should have a nighttime version for people in England and Ireland, as was put in charge of facilitating those sessions. Being an Animator of Animators for Laudato Si’ Movement gives me credibility and confidence, as I am currently trying to set up an online Laudato Si’ Circle to cover the whole diocese and widen our circle.
With my personality, if I want something I become very passionate about it and I’m going to find a way to get it done. Though I often feel a sense of urgency, I am constantly reminded that things will happen in the Lord’s time. We want authentic conversion–not just ticking boxes and getting numbers. You don’t have to be somebody special to make a difference–we can all do something. As St. David, the patron saint of Wales, said, “Do small things well.”
Watch Sally’s video about how to celebrate Easter sustainably: