We are considering the suffering in the Amazon forest and how best to respond to it. Small farmer and poet mystic and prophet Wendell Berry advises us to “Fight the worst with the best.” Since Jung says the mystics represent “what is best in humanity” it would seem that listening to the mystics who are also prophets is a very wise thing to do. Consider the teachings of these three women:
Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard, mystic, abbess, healer, and Doctor of the Church, wrote: “The Earth should not be injured, the Earth should not be destroyed!” For Hildegard humans are privileged to live in a “web of creation” but “if this privilege is misused, God’s justice permits creation to punish humanity.” (41f)
Sister Dorothy Stang
This mystic, prophet and eco-martyr, gunned down in the Amazon rainforest by killers hired by the same forces that are setting fire to the forests now: “The death of the forest is the end of our lives.” When she knew her life was in danger she was advised by many to leave the country, but responded: “I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.”
Author, activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein calls for a “full-throated debate about values”—about what we owe to one another based on our shared humanity, and what it is that we collectively value more than economic growth and corporate profits.” (50) She reminds us that the “internal work is crucial as we come together in resistance and transformation.” (51)
Just recently in these Meditations I shared the teaching of both Hildegard and Rabbi Heschel about the importance of remembering awe, wonder, gratitude—the Via Positiva. Now more than ever we must fill up on the Via Positiva so we know what it is we are fighting for, and to bring the joy with us as we battle our own darkness and those forces wrapped in denial and darkness.
What are some actions we can take? Here is one: Stop eating beef. If raising cattle is the reason ranchers are setting fire to the rainforest then the reason for raising cattle needs to be eliminated. That means we quit eating beef. It’s good for the Earth and it saves on our limited water supplies and is healthy for your own body.
See Matthew Fox, Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint For Our Times, 50, 51.
See Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, Jen Listug, The Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
Banner image: “Earth Conservation” Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay
Queries for Contemplation
Be with the words of Hildegard; of Sister Dorothy; of Naomi Klein: How do they speak to your grief and to your moral outrage? And to what you can give birth to?
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.”
~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope
“The creation of the Order of the Sacred Earth is a magnificent step forward for humanity.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of Way of Passion and The Hope.
Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century
Author Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.