Green Man Jesus Inspires
Eco-Martyr Sister Dorothy Stang

Speaking of the Green Man archetype and the the return of the Green Man to challenge toxic masculinity today, one cannot fail to recall what Hildegard of Bingen, also of the twelfth century, said about Jesus.  She called him a “green man.” 

This is striking for several reasons. First, it shows how alert and aware Hildegard was to the signs of her times, since the Green Man was alive and well in the twelfth century.  Second, Hildegard developed her entire theology around the theme of greening power which she compared to our blood or to the sap of the tree or to the Holy Spirit at work in us.  Clearly she puts Christ at the center of that energy.  For her Jesus is the bearer of Greening Power, the Sender of the Holy Spirit who “greens” us.  She was a champion of the earth and of preserving and defending the earth.  Jesus therefore fulfills for her the depth of a green prophet, fully alive, fully committed, fully in love with life.

When Jesus taught us to “love your neighbor” was he only thinking your two-legged neighbor?  Or was he also urging us to love our neighbors the trees?  The animals?  The birds?  The rivers?  The ocean?  The whales?  The soil?  The forests?  The air?  The water?  None of which we can take for granted today.  All this love is about standing up to extinction, rebelling against extinction.

Sister Dorothy Stang, who grew up in a large Catholic family on a farm in Ohio, joined the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and worked and lived among the peasants in the Amazon who were assailed by corporate powers wanting to own the Amazon.  She started schools for the peasant children and studied the Brazilian legal system in order to stand up for the peasants and with them.  She became a leader.  Her life was threatened. 

Patron Saint of Extinction Rebellion Resisters

Sister Dot’s memory is lovingly honored in a banner by her brother,
Tom Stang

On February 12, 2005, she was walking alone on a dirt path in the jungle and three gunmen came out of the bushes with guns at the ready.  She took out her Bible and started reading the Beatitudes to them.  She was 73 years old when she was gunned down. 

Sister Dot demonstrates the courage and commitment that defending Mother Earth is all about. She is one of thousands who were – and continue to be – martyred defending the Amazon.  I see her as patron saint to resisters and Earth keepers everywhere, a martyr for peace between humans and the earth.

Lectio Divina Practice

Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading,”is the ancient practice of meditatively and prayerfully reading the words of Scripture or other sacred texts, asking Spirit what your proper response might be to the truths they lay bare.

In this spirit, take a phrase or word from this meditation and be still with it, letting it wash over you and through and through you.  Repeat it as a mantra.  Be with the silence that follows.  Be with, be with…. 

Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions, reveals his personal, intellectual, and spiritual journey from altar boy, to Dominican priest, to his eventual break with the Vatican. Five new chapters in this revised and updated edition bring added perspective in light of the author’s continued journey, and his reflections on the current changes taking place in church, society and the environment.

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.

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