My final question for Margaret: What gives you the most reason for hope?
Teilhard de Chardin writes prophetically of a spiritual evolution in which humankind is engaged. I’m sure he’s right, and I believe we can see this process unfolding in surprising and exciting new ways in our own times.
Over the past fifty years I see a significant rise in human consciousness, for example: in awareness of and response to the needs of the poor and of those caught up in natural or man-made disasters; in ecological awareness and an accompanying humility that recognises our interdependence with all living things and with the earth itself; in the accelerating striving for just and democratic political and economic systems; in the growing refusal to accept that violent intervention is ever the solution to any problem, and is unworthy of the human family; in the eagerness of so many young people, churched or unchurched, to give years of their lives to serve their brothers and sisters in the developing world, and in the courage with which many people are daring to express their disagreement with the dictates of unjust systems in both state and church.
And although it can look like we are on the edge of major meltdown, my hope lies in the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, which reminds me, hour by hour, that this is actually the pattern not just of breakdown but, more importantly, of breakthrough, and we see this pattern weaving through everything, from the Genesis stories and the Gospel through to quantum physics and chaos theory. There is life in even greater fullness on the other side of chaos, if we can only trust the process in which we and God are engaged.