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Earth Day Musings

Sister Doreen’s Reflections

Joyce Rupp wrote: “The soul of the world and our own souls intertwine and influence one another. There is one Great Being who enlivens the dance of our beautiful planet and everything that exits. The darkness of outer space, the greenness of our land and the blue of our seas, the breath of every human and creature, all are intimately united in a cosmic dance of oneness with the Creator’s breath of love.”

As I thought about  this ‘oneness’ I began to realize that it is this that really challenges me to feel responsible and to care for our planet. What can I do? How can I help? When I hear facts about the termination of species, global warming, and destruction of rich farmlands and rain forests – the droughts, floods, melting glaciers and all the recent news that shouts out the problems of climate change and global warming, this bond, this intimate link, this ‘oneness’ brings a feeling of immediacy, pain, challenge, and I feel the tormented cry of our planet’s devastation. What can I do? How can I help?

I know how important, how vital it is to be open to a growing awareness, reverence, openness and humbleness in relationship to the earth and all creation. Being open to this, however, is a challenge in our busy, individualistic oriented culture. Earth day is a reminder – a shout if you like – to remind us. It is a shout of ‘stop and look and listen’.

Joyce Rupp goes on to say this is a different way:  “Every day I am offered the tremendous gift of sipping from the mystery of life, tasting the exquisite beauty in what the universe offers me from the vast cup of the cosmos. And in the midst of this beauty, I am also invited to hear the groan of suffering that arises from our bleeding and wounded planet.”

Setting aside a day of reflection, an earth day, affords us the opportunity to think about what we are doing to our earth, perhaps to “embolden us to walk out into the world as into our own hearts” (Joanna Macy). While setting aside one day as earth day, perhaps it is time to consider every day an earth day, a challenging awareness that asks us to do our own little bit that we can do to tend and to mend the earth. Where would we be without earth where we ‘live and move and have our being’?

Thomas Berry writes: “Human intelligence requires a magnificent world, a beautiful world, a world of resonance and meaning. For humans to bear the burden of intelligence and responsibility, we need a beautiful world to inspire and heal us.” We have all experienced the restorative healing, the sense of harmony and well-being that comes to us as we experience what earth holds out to us – the first warm breeze of spring, the snowflakes drifting onto our face, walking through a field or sitting on a porch step at sunrise or sunset.

Awareness of the agony and the scope of our ecological crises is painful in the midst of these experiences. This earth day brings with it the sadness, the anguish of knowing what we are doing to earth and to one another. It can be overwhelming at times but it is also an opportunity for us to pray our way through the tears, to live our way into new ways of seeing and believing … to live into in a deeper way, to that reverence for creation and every human person that we are all called to. Joyce Rupp wrote: “Resiliency is rooted in the human heart. It is an essential catalyst for moving through painful and devastating experiences. Resiliency is about being down and out and springing back, being persistent in the face of defeat. It is solidarity with others that strengthens the soul. It is hope that holds on in spite of overwhelming loss. It is unrelenting faith in a loving God whose abiding presence provides strength through every season.”

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed …” (2 Cor. 4:8-9) What can I do? How can I help? “Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” (Bishop Tutu)

The quotation on the picture for this reflection is one that I would like to end with, for earth day has an important goal. “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”

Wisdom to Care for the Earth:

Lord, grant us the wisdom to care for the earth and till it.
Help us to act now for the good of future generations and all your creatures.
Help us to become instruments of a new creation,
Founded on the covenant of your love.
– The Cry of the Earth