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Loving Journey of our ecological conversion

L eventMonday, 27 May 2024

"The world will never die for lack of wonders but only for lack of wonder". Chesterton


In June 2015, in his encyclical Laudato Si, the Pope calls us to live a true ecological conversion. It was at that very moment that the Lord captured us to become servants of our "common home" and of those who live in it.

We had married 6 months before, and we had been walking the Way to Santiago de Compostela for 2 and a half months. The long walk, the sober life with our home in two backpacks weighing less than 10 kilos, the varied and unexpectedly rich encounters and the slow reading of Laudato Si brought to light our deep desire to work towards creating the world we desire. Along the way we acquired, bit by bit, "a loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion" (LS 220).

Back from Santiago de Compostela, and filled with the zeal of new converts, we wanted to radically change our life in Marseille. However, the return has been hard for Arthur... We had journeyed over 2,000 kilometres at a slow walking pace whereas his work, carrying out studies on road traffic, enables people to go as fast as possible. The collision was violent and the landing complicated. At the same time, Arthur began seriously to collect information about the state of our world with its ongoing and future catastrophes. The results were alarming and completely in line with the first chapter of Laudato Si. The discrepancy between the joy and wonder that had deeply filled our souls during the walk and his analysis of the effects of humanity's domination of the world was truly painful for him.

Concerned about my husband's situation, I took care of him. I was also convinced that it was by acting - and praying - that we would find joy and hope again. So I clung to the Pope's words: "An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures by which we break the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness". So we tried to focus our attention on the mechanics of our daily life. We were sure that wonder and the relationship with others would be essential assets of our approach... Abandoning the supermarket to shop at a local producer we are happy to see every week; making our own compotes and tomato sauces to celebrate our ability to use our hands; preferring homemade gifts to engage our creativity and our time in the joy of giving (there is nothing better than knitting and praying for the one for whom the gift is intended!); starting to cultivate the land in a vegetable garden in the northern districts of Marseille in order to rediscover our taste for contact with nature...

The path of sobriety thus lived made us more free. Transforming our way of consumption brought us more joy: "more connections, fewer goods". Homemade things gave us self-confidence: Arthur can make a beautiful shelf... Blandine cooks good vegetarian dishes... Thank you Lord for all these hitherto unsuspected gifts!

Sometimes, these changes of habit were heavy to bear... Then we drew from the source from where our energy springs:  wonder before the beauty of Creation and our mutual love as a couple.

We were also convinced that you don't experience an ecological conversion alone. We were inspired by those who had gone before us and had brought effective and just answers to various problems. So we decided to go and meet these people. During this stroll in France, we met many beautiful people who had a coherent, joyful and moderate way of life, who tasted the present moment with calm and dedication. For us they were like little flames of hope in preparation for a great fire.

As we advanced along the way of ecology in daily life, strengthened by our encounters with these builders of a better world, we asked ourselves:  « what is our place in this adventure? »

A great desire has been growing in our hearts for some time. We wanted to become market gardeners. We wanted to return to Genesis, to the creation of the world, to the garden which God entrusted to us so that all species might live there in harmony, with humans exercising their responsibility to take care of it and pass it on. Market gardening implies reconnecting with Creation, with the rhythm of the seasons, with time as God intended it to be for humanity, with the beauty of biodiversity; it implies giving meaning to our work by becoming co-creators; creating new relationships between producers and consumers and thus fostering a new way of being in the world; working in a job that is essential to life; making things of quality; working practically, working with living things and not against them; it implies being able to work in silence.

And we've taken the plunge. We are currently in our first year of setting up organic market gardening in Seine et Marne, next to the Transition Campus. We are finding that this business is at once fascinating and complex, inspirational and tiring. We are working as a couple: the joy of this "crazy" project enriched by our complementary gifts, humility and forgiveness in the face of our misunderstandings and our anger! We are completely dependent on nature, the climate (especially the terrible drought of the summer of 2020), the bad weather. There are unexpected events, limits, and fragilities which remind us that nature is given to us.

Faced with the crises that our world is going through, we are composed and happy with our choice of life. We try, with God's grace, to create beauty and goodness where we are. A question we ask ourselves every day: "Does the act I am about to perform create the world I love? ».

Blandine and Arthur de Lassus, 33 and 31 years old