Earth Day Reflection
It’s no secret that Mother Earth is fighting for her life amidst attitudes and policies that misunderstand and threaten her. As we look towards Earth Day 2018, it might help to remember her 4.5-billion-year life story. It proves that our current situation is not the first major challenge Mother Earth has faced and solved. Over the billions of years of her lifetime, Earth has shown the creativity she needed for her survival.
More than 2.3 billion years ago, Earth’s multicellular forms began producing oxygen by photosynthesis. After about 200 million years, the overproduction of oxygen in her atmosphere resulted in severe extinctions of organisms. But, lo!, Earth evolved aerobic organisms that consumed oxygen and thus created a positive equilibrium. Earth survived to face new challenges and new solutions.
By 1970, pollution in the United States was so severe that environmental activists, students and legislators initiated Earth Day. Resulting regulations, laws, awareness and organizations brought relief to the planet and life within it. Earth Day is now celebrated in over 190 countries, and concerted actions are taken to protect our Mother Earth.
Perhaps her current threats are just what’s needed to birth what Thomas Berry called the new human — an evolutionary stage of life where we develop an awareness of our “gravitational bonding with the universe itself and within each of its components, and the intimate presence of each component of the universe with other components, a mystical attraction, you might say.” The threats of our time urgently call us “to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.”
No small task, that! Berry writes: “Such a transition has no historical parallel since the geobiological [and astro-biologiocal] transition that took place 67 million years ago….” Regenerations followed disaster.
Pope Francis sees signs that this is happening — what he calls “authentic humanity” dwelling “in the midst of our technological culture, almost unnoticed, like a mist seeping gently beneath a closed door.” (Laudato Si’, par. 112) There is a growing awareness that everything is interrelated and sacred. Millions of people gather in multiple countries to support policies based on respect and concern for all life, knowing we are part of a communion of subjects rather than of a collection of isolated objects. This never happened, never could have happened, on Earth before our time.
Because of the way evolution works, it is impossible to predict how we will respond to current challenges. But, being part of the human species, we can deepen our ability to see in wholes and tap into the Love that lives and acts in us and in all creation.
Earth Day Prayer
Pause for several minutes’ quiet reflection on the wonder, variety, individuality and “interbeing” of Earth’s existence in our solar system and universe.
Litany: Let us join in thanking for the gift of Earth. Take turns reading the following litany.
Response: … we give thanks.
– for the creative love active from the first flaring forth, when Earth’s 13.8-billion-year story begins, … we give thanks.
– for Mother Earth’s continuing evolution from stardust through its 4.5-billion-year story so far, … we give thanks.
– for Earth’s ability to create, to heal, to diversify, to adapt, to be intrinsically interconnected, … we give thanks.
– for the gifts of water, soil, air, climate, flora and fauna, and the bioregions that developed over millennia, … we give thanks.
– for the colorful and nurturing gifts that developed in our era: flowers and trees, fish and mammals, human beings who collaborated and bonded to further their species, … we give thanks.
– for the creative ways that Earth developed to heal the challenges that Earth has encountered during her long story, … we give thanks.
– for the people celebrating Earth Day in nearly 200 countries, … we give thanks.
– for Pope Francis, whose commitment to care for our common home inspires people and organizations throughout the world, … we give thanks.
– for the leaders and legislators who have provided direction and laws that assist our planet to flourish, … we give thanks.
– Add as you wish.
Share one image or experience that brought you awe or wonder this week.
Litany: Let us deepen our commitment to care for Earth. Take turns reading the following litany.
Response: may we take action.
– Because stockpiles of nuclear weapons threaten all life whether or not they are ever used, may we take action.
– Because climate change already causes massive damage to all life on Earth, may we take action.
– Because multiple causes are resulting in a Sixth Major Extinction of life on Earth, may we take action.
– Because mono-crops and farming with harmful chemicals result in inferior food and spoiled soil and water, may we take action.
– Because pollution, especially from plastics, is trashing so much of our planet including our oceans, may we take action.
– Because deforestation ruins soil, water, air, and all life, may we take action.
– Because human greed and consumerism exploit humans and other species and resources, may we take action.
– Because so many suffer from problems caused by environmental damage, may we take action.
Pause for a few moments’ quiet reflection. Share if you wish: What will we do, alone and/or with others, to enhance Earth’s future?
Sing: “Holy Now” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiypaURysz4) or similar song/hymn of praise for creation