Visitors to Chelmsford Cathedral this autumn were able to experience an astronaut’s view of the world when the stunning ‘Gaia’ artwork came to Essex.

Measuring six metres in diameter and created from 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, ‘Gaia’ provided the opportunity to see the planet in its entirety as it slowly revolved in the nave of Chelmsford Cathedral, accompanied by a surround-sound composition by BAFTA award winning composer Dan Jones.

The Exhibition was held in conjunction with an inaugural Science Festival, providing an opportunity for people of all ages to be inspired and to discover the fascinating world of science.  This had the support of Essex County Council’s Climate Action Fund and Anglia Ruskin University.

The Exhibition was attended by large numbers if people including many children and young people. It provided an opportunity for people of all ages to be inspired and to discover the fascinating world of science.

The context of the Cathedral lent another dimension which by nature of the faith professed within and outside the walls of the building is a visible reminder of the things of God, His care, love and compassion holds us all close to His heart.

The concern for the earth God has created is something many of us are sharing in the face of climate change and the many unusual weather and climate events which are afflicting us.  As I looked quietly at the globe, lit from within and suspended two metres above our heads (more if like many children you lay on your back looking up.), I saw the immensity of our planet, poised in space. It is the vulnerability of both it and us which struck me forcibly. This fragile earth and gift of God needs our responsible care and deep stewardship.
I saw more. Seeing the planet in this way it struck me just how much water covers the surface and, by comparison, how little land. On what is quite obviously, a finite and limited area, there is no room for warfare, exploitation, Nimbyism, selfishness and greed. We don’t own any of it. We share the earth with everyone and every creature. We share it all with Nature. So,we have got to change the way we see everything and everyone. We can no longer leave it to a few, often incompetent, Governments. We certainly cannot allow a handful of less than a dozen dictators to impose their will on millions of others and destroy livelihoods, homes and habitats at will. How dare we allow that to happen and do nothing!

As I write COP27 is in progress in Egypt. Whether it will actually make progress remains to be seen. Yet we all have a part to play in this process. We cannot allow them to destroy innicent livesThose of us who serve God as our Creator, Lord and Spiritual guide – however we express that – can and must pray. Prayer is not a last resort but a first Resource.

Below is a prayer written by Pope Francis, to start us off.

A Prayer for our Earth

All-powerful God,
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live

as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.

Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.


Prayer of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’


The words in italics at the beginning of this article is drawn from Chelmsford Cathedral’s website. Below is an explanation of  Gaia

Since the 1970s James Lovelock developed the Gaia hypothesis, named after the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth (See GAIA). As originally conceived the ‘Gaia’ concept envisages the Earth as a super-organism that operates to regulate its own environment, principally temperature, to keep it habitable for the biosphere.

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