Life @ OMI – Soil & Soul – Lie Along With Nature (An Interview with Fr. E. Godfrey Joel, OMI)

Nature also is designed to be what we create. It gains shape to what we perceive or want it to be. There are merits and demerits since it can lead to disorganization of the bio-world. Nature and people ought to work independently. The conspicuous planning for better eco-world slowly and steadily leads to an eco-spiritual creation which is possible only when we feel the love of that same creation towards us. Pope Francis invites for clarion call on integral ecology in his Encyclical Laudato Si published in 2015. The integral ecology, according to him, is building up of the neighbourhood through building the eco-world. This should increase within us the ability to learn perceiving the world as related intimately to our existence.

Having spent precious time at the most beautiful garden of Fr. Godfrey, I was stunned to realize upon the green atmosphere at the entrance of St. Henry’s College, Ilavalai. Being the Principal, he leaves no time undue. I have realized that he gives hope for life through loving the nature. His efforts make creation alive. Of course, this tangible, spiritual animation remains a lesson for others. There have been, in conversing with this, numerous questions; but his answers were inspirational, touching and stirring one’s inmost being.

Q – Father, what is it that sparked off your interest under “Soul and Soil” strategy?

I would name the concept “Soul and Soil” as a live style rather than a strategy. The word “soul” denotes our inner being-true being, presence of God and “soil” the upper layer of earth where animals and plant species live and grow. Each and every human being has to strive to get in touch with his other inner being; the dwelling place of the creator. Interconnectedness of a human being with himself or herself leads one to take care of oneself, neighbour and nature.

During my initial formative years I used to take time admiring the beauty of nature, spending time at sea shore, on slope of mountains and in plains to feel inner peace and serenity. I have got a huge collection of photographs taken on my visits to different places and countries. Whenever I go through looking at the photographs, even after years, I experience the same feeling I had when shooting the particular snap. I enjoy photography, site seeing and working for the betterment of Mother Nature and human beings.

Q – Do you consider it to be something that fashions you?

You are right, it is fashioning my being. From my late 20s I started to search within me the inter-connectedness to my inner being and to listen to it. Moreover, when I started to journey deeper into myself I could get in touch with my inner being. But at the beginning my stability of interconnectedness depended, mostly, upon external circumstances. Nearly after ten years I could get in touch with my inner being amid external turbulences. I thank God for giving me such a wonderful experience.

Q- How do you find time in spite of your heavy responsibilities?

Interesting part of the story is here, I make use of my responsibility to share my passion with students, teachers and parents with whom I relate. Our college, St. Henry’s College is a polythene free college. We have a waste management system of our own. The staff, students and myself belonging to clubs, produce manure, black gold etc., to manage the needs of the college. We have got a herbal garden and a vegetable garden managed by our teachers and students. It is our duty that we teach students to take care of and love mother earth, ourselves- our body and soul. Students who come to our school are given opportunities and are helped to touch with their inner being and to listen to it. I do not see it as a burden but rather an opportunity to share my passion with them.

Q – Are you self-taught or did you focus on any study matter learning to be eco-spiritual?

I am self-taught. I have got some friends who are on the same wave length, we share ideas and work together on different projects.

Q – This initiative shows your creative inspiration. What do you like to tell the world?

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my passion with you. It’s our prime duty that we must learn to take care of our soul as well as our soil. More importantly we are obliged to teach our kids, from our own experience, to love and nurture their souls and soil.

Our appreciation goes to Fr. Godfrey, OMI for the creative formation of natural world. Though we are all trapped in this pandemic, this growing interest gives us hope and to the sustainable communities. Though his knowledge about eco-spirituality first appears to be schematically portrayed, yet slowly materializes as his first experiences in the fields of eco-spirituality. All the best and bloom where you are planted.

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