Friday is Earth Day.  Of course, every day is Earth Day.  Where would we be without Mother Earth?  Have we thanked her lately?

Reverence for Nature: yoga instructor Cristina Ortiz in Child’s Pose. Photo (c) Cristina Ortiz, from Cristina Ortiz Yoga; used with permission.

But humans being who we are, we need moments like Earth Day just as we need moments like Ramadan or Passover or Easter to continue to ground ourselves and to stay awake and aware when other events deter us and distract us.  Like wars.  Or paying the bills.  Or dealing with taxes.  Or the rhythms of life around us and our loved ones. 

And politics and politicians, separating lies from truth and floods of dark money from dark places for dark purposes such as destroying democracy for the sake of narcissistic wanna-be Czars, dictators, religious zealots or what have you.

We cannot be conscious all the time of what is important and not so; Life makes many demands on our time and thoughts.

Earth Day reminds us of what is important.  And what is less important. 

Truth is important and the facts of how Mother Earth is suffering today at the hands of humans is important.  Science, therefore, is important for, among other things, offering the facts of how Earth is being treated and what the consequences are and will be. 

For humans, war is an obvious tragedy. But when the fighting stops, another more silent victim is discovered: the natural environment itself. Video by euronews.

Facts are not always easy to face but face them we must.  If survival is important for a species like ours and if we can still hope that a life of joy and justice, of conviviality and compassion, is still possible for all seven billion homosapiens on this earth, then we dare to face the facts of our time, listen to science, and respond generously.

How special and how sacred is earth to all of us?  And to leaders of our various communities and tribes and systems of governments around the world?  And to all our religions?  And all our places and levels of learning, from pre-school through professional schools?  Is Earth and her wonders on the agenda of every professional school in the world?  Are lawyers and bankers and entertainers and business leaders learning how their work can contribute to preserving the Earth?  (Or destroying it?)

Is Earth and her survival at the forefront of every religious tradition in the world?  If the essence of true religion is, in Thomas Aquinas’s understanding, “supreme thankfulness and gratitude,” are we all—believers or not—engaged in rendering “supreme thankfulness and gratitude”?   How do we best do that? 

To be continued…

See Matthew Fox, The Tao of Thomas Aquinas, pp. 41-44. 

Also see Matthew Fox, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic…and Beyond

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “The Great Los Angeles River CleanUp” Roughly 4,000 volunteers over 15 community sites cleared 25 tons of trash from the riverway. Photo by Los Angeles District US Army Corps of Engineers on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Meditate on where you would be without Mother Earth?  On where we would be?  Meditate on Nothingness.  How do you go about expressing supreme thankfulness and gratitude?  Can we do better?

Recommended Reading

The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times

A stunning spiritual handbook drawn from the substantive teachings of Aquinas’ mystical/prophetic genius, offering a sublime roadmap for spirituality and action.
Foreword by Ilia Delio.
“What a wonderful book!  Only Matt Fox could bring to life the wisdom and brilliance of Aquinas with so much creativity. The Tao of Thomas Aquinas is a masterpiece.”
–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond

Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.”  –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.

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14 thoughts on “In Lead-Up to Earth Day, Some Reflections”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You ask us today: “Is Earth and her survival at the forefront of every religious tradition in the world?” Every religious tradition??? No! Most of the fundamentalist of the Abrahamic Religions are waiting for the End of the World when God will destroy the present world with firs and recreate a new perfect world. So, why would they work to preserve the earth? And when it comes to the the Religions of India most of them see the world as an illusion. So, why would they work to preserve an illusion?
    “If the essence of true religion is, in Thomas Aquinas’s understanding, “supreme thankfulness and gratitude,” are we all—believers or not—engaged in rendering “supreme thankfulness and gratitude”? Again, No! because of what I wrote above, and complicated by greed and power–many huge companies profit from depleting the earth’s resources, and they are willing to fight for those resources and so we get more greed and war!
    “Meditate on where we would be without Mother Earth?” Without the earth we would all be dead… even the greedy and powerful and the warmongers!
    “Meditate on Nothingness.” We should all meditate on Nothingness, because that is what we will all become if the earth dies.

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Without Mother Earth, I would not exist, nor would anyone or anything else. It is She Who maintains and sustains all life, all that exists. She is the Mother of us all, whom continously pours Herself out, giving life… and She is also She whom embraces and transforms all in death. Mother Earth is a living, breathing, being… not just a planet within the Cosmos. She mirrors to each one of us… that which we are… all made of the same substance, however taking on many diverse and unique expressions, manifestations, shapes and forms. Humanity has not loved our Mother… yet, She has never stopped loving us. She withholds nothing of Herself… amidst all of our unjust abuses… to numerous to mention. She deserves so much more than humanity has ever offered or given.

    Mother Earth is suffering in such deep pain, dying a slow death. She needs our compassion, our mercy, our love. Prayers of gratitude… She does indeed welcome… however, She needs so much more than words, in Her time of crises. It’s time now, in whatever ways we can… to acknowledge, and actively respond to alleviating Her pain, to tending to her wounds… to showing Mother Earth our love for Her… not out of fear of our own extinction… but as an act of deep gratitude for who She is and all that She has given of Herself.

    Imagine if humanity… if all the nations came together in this one act… the many blessings of healing we could offer Mother Earth in Her time of need… for Her need is our need too… Her pain and suffering is our pain and suffering… for we are intricately interconnected, interdependent and interreliant… bonded as one living organism… One great Webb of life. What God has joined together, no man can tare asunder. If She dies, we and the all and the everything of creation dies with Her. Her death is our death and Her life is our life. Both of these lie before all of humanity. The question remains… will we continue to choose to be harbringers of death, or will we choose to be good stewards of life, here and now?

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, You write today: “Mother Earth is suffering in such deep pain, dying a slow death. She needs our compassion, our mercy, our love. Prayers of gratitude… She does indeed welcome… however, She needs so much more than words, in Her time of crises…” She needs us to “actively respond to alleviating Her pain, to tending to her wounds…”

  3. Avatar

    In the faith and silence of my contemplative prayer/spirituality, I feel deeply connected to the Loving Oneness of our Mother~Father Creator within, through, among, and around all of us in our relations, our Mother Earth and all her creatures, the mysteries of all our spiritual multidimensions, and the growing consciousness of our co-Creative interconnections and interdependence with our ongoing Cosmic Soul Evolution…. I feel humbly grateful to be a part of these Loving, wonderful, beautiful, mysterious, Living~Creative processes, trusting the intimacy, Oneness with-in our Loving Creator…. The Love and Sacredness of All Life is a Wonder, Beauty, Joy (even paradoxically our suffering), and a Mystery, especially the sacredness and humility of our unique human lives on earth and on our eternal soul journeys with-in our Loving Mother~Father Creator….

  4. Avatar

    It seems that we have become the invasive species that has a chokehold on Mother Earth. Somehow dark anti-human/nature forces have been able stay destructively active in their dark transnational bunkers even as warriors for justice, truth and love have abounded throughout recent decades. These warriors have many followers actively sowing seeds of truth/love/transcendence.
    But the abiding questions remain: Will darkness overcome the Light? Will Mother Earth survive? Canadian Jewish poet prophet Leonard Cohen warned in his iconic 1970s song THE FUTURE…”there will be nothing you can measure any more….a breaking of the ancient western code…you will feel the devil’s riding crop….the woman hanging upside down. The choice Cohen highlights is stark: “give me Christ or give me Hiroshima”….

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Gwen, You write today: “It seems that we have become the invasive species that has a chokehold on Mother Earth.” I have also seen humanity as a kind of cancer upon the earth… But then you ask: “But the abiding questions remain: Will darkness overcome the Light? Will Mother Earth survive?” We are told a number of times in the Bible that the darkness will NOT overcome the Light. But will Mother Earth survive? Yes it will, it can go on even in the state that Mars is in, it is only our species and a number of others that may not survive… But then to your Leonard Cohen, I will add that there’s Hank Williams song (Will the Circle Be Unbroken), which says, “There’s a better home a waitin’ in the sky Lord, in the sky”–I personally however, feel that songs like Hank’s–whereas they may give many hope, it in turn denigrates the earth, and our responsibility of being good stewards of the earth.

  5. Avatar

    Gratefulness is our best response to the beauty of creation and God or whoever we believe is the Creator. Mother earth will survive without us, but the reverse is not true.

  6. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    I’ve often heard people say, like Sue, that the Earth will survive without humanity. The reality is we really don’t know this to be true…. do we. To me there’s a big difference between surviving and thriving with life. Yes there appears to be evidence of the Mother Earth having survived an Ice Age, however this seems to me to be some kind of mysterious natural event, beyond our ability to comprehend as to why or how such an event came to be. The many ways that humanity is destroying life and its ability to thrive on Mother Earth, is not a natural event… but rather a manmade disaster, which is destroying the balance and equilibrium necessary for
    any kind of recovery… unravelling the web of all that is natural that holds everything together. For me personally believing that Mother Earth will survive without humanity is not something we know to be true… but rather is unknown and uncertain… and this unknown, uncertainty is a very dangerous, slippery slope… which possibly is simply an illusion rather than a hopefull reality.

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