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Spirit, Body, and Earth: A Missioner’s Transformation


Continuing our series Sacraments and Social Mission: Living the Gospel, Being Disciples, current missioner Annemarie Barrett writes about her relationship with the Earth, its presence in her life, and her ongoing conversion.

I did not grow up gardening.

I never got much into my science classes. I preferred reading and writing and making art to exploring biology or the Earth outside my room. I could not have really told you the first thing about planting a flower or a vegetable seed or a tree well.

A view to Cochabamba

But now I am digging and planting and learning every day.

I can feel my physical health improving as I learn to work more with my hands. I am seeing my emotional and physical and spiritual health as more interconnected as I feel the energy that fills me each time I have the opportunity to work outside, noting that not only does my body feel better but my spirit does as well.

My whole relationship with our Earth is transforming. My whole perspective on city life is changing.

As one agronomist, so directly put it to us, “Necesitamos menos ciencia y más Pachamama” or “We need less science and more Mother Earth.”

Annemarie and Kim in the garden

Often in our work in the parish garden, our team sees kids from the neighborhood who have never planted anything or gotten their hands dirty with soil. They light up as they run around the garden. They love simply playing with the bugs and being energized by the fresh air and birds.

Likewise, we observe adults who work in the city, inexperienced with gardening, begin to express great affection for the work in the garden, referring to “their worms” and caring for them tenderly.

When the women in Santa Rosa interact with the animals in their gardens, the rabbits, the guinea pigs, the sheep and goats, they hold them like children, hugging them and kissing them. They treat those animals as subjects worthy of respect and care.

The transformation is incredible and it is a great source of consolation for our team in the garden.

But what I am realizing more and more is the way this transformation is also taking hold within me.

Tomorrow: Eucharist and Mission
Friday:  Necesitamos menos ciencia y más Pachamama” by Annemarie

From St. Paul, Minnesota, Annemarie graduated from Loyola University in Chicago in 2012 with a degree in Communication Studies. Possessing a strong interest in social justice issues and some experience with international travel, she began her service in Bolivia in January 2013.