Earth Day 2023: Lessons of Celebrating & Exulting

Let us celebrate today, Earth Day, with joy and gusto and gratitude. Let us rejoice not at what we have made but what Earth and the cosmos has made over 14 billion years and has invited us aboard.

Celebrating Earth and Cosmos. Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

If we have learned anything from the Webb Telescope and the amazing stories emerging about our universe, it is this: Earth is special.  

We are just the right distance from the sun, we have just the right tilt so seasons occur to grow things, just the right distance from the moon that tides invite sea creatures to come on land, lots and lots of water, and so much more. 

Look around you.  Look at your dog or cat or horse and feel their thoughtful and caring presence.  Taste their beauty.  Meditate on the birds and so many animals and fishes—the four legged ones and finned ones, the winged ones and the slithering ones, all doing their thing, all contributing to their own kind and to the rest of us.

“Earth 101 | National Geographic.” Past, present, and future of our existence on this very special planet.

And we, the two legged ones, can study creatures and their origins and learn why it works and how it works and for how long it has been working—isn’t that something?  Isn’t it something that we are here too?  To take it all in?  We are late comers but we are here. 

And why are we here?  Might it be to enjoy and celebrate along with all the other creatures doing their best to be beautiful and joyful?  As Thomas Berry reminds us—“in the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration.  It is all an exultant expression of existence itself.”

Are we exultant?  Are we celebrating?  Are we giving thanks this Earth Day 2023?  Are taught to be celebrating and are we teaching our young to celebrate the earth? 

If not, what are we teaching them instead?  What is more important than that?

This beautiful planet. Grassland, Yili, China. Photo by Qingbao Meng on Unsplash

Yes, we may someday discover an exoplanet similar to ours and if so, that would be wonderful.  But today, Earth day 2023, this we know: Such a place will be very, very far away.  And we–we are home in a wondrous place that is utterly welcoming to our species.  And diverse.  And beautiful.  And exultant. 

Are we?

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics, p. 363.  

And Fox, Original Blessing.  

And Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.

PLEASE NOTE: Something went awry in the captioning option of our video software program, thus we are unable to use close captioning for the video today. However, the video has been transcribed and you may read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching by clicking HERE.

Banner image: “The Blue Marble: The View From Apollo 17. Fifty years ago, on April 22, 1970, people around the world marked the first Earth Day.” NASA

Queries for Contemplation

What do you learn from dogs and cats, plants and trees, rocks and fishes, sun and moon and sky?

Recommended Reading

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations

As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us in wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice.  This revolutionary book does just that.  Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations.  Study and practice these teachings.  Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth.

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug

In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“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.

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14 thoughts on “Earth Day 2023: Lessons of Celebrating & Exulting”

  1. Avatar

    “Nothing Else”

    What we fail to see will save us.

    Divinity is at the core of our humanity – nothing else.

    Divinity is at the core of the earth – nothing else.

    Divinity is at the core of all creatures and creation – nothing else.

    If we treat all as divine, we recognize and manifest the divine that all of creation is – we need do nothing else.

    We need do this now, to honour, to recognize, to respect, the divine in everything and everyone.

    Divine is the spark that is within us and within all.

    Let us bow down to that. That is what is meant to be truly human.

    — BB.

  2. Avatar

    For this earth day I bought 20 young trees to plant. I am giving 10 of them to a neighbor man who is a very right wing evangelical preacher to give to some young people in our community starting out who need some beautiful greenery. I remember the day we first met. He drove up to my place where I was pruning a tree in my barnyard & with his sparkling blue eyes, looked me straight in the eyes–& introducing himself, said, “Hi! I am Pastor Rick the Redneck.” I responded, “Hello there Pastor Rick the Redneck. I am Lee the Libtard.” He burst out laughing, & so did I. He knew I was a “Libtard” before we even met–as this is a small, rural & extremely right wing community–& news travels fast. As far as religious and political views, we are miles apart. But in a small community, we have to work together to get some things done. We both work together to support the local food shelf. And he and his friends have helped me to remove beautiful old towering pine trees & huge boughs that have come down in the storms. I share non-gmo wildflower & flower seeds & plants with his wife & we plant them together. We also exchange recipes for tasty meals–& have broken bread together after working together. I am not a member of his church, but we get together on things that we can share. He is always in my prayers…not to change, but giving thanks for the big beautiful, all & strangely wondrous, awesomeness of the ALL! Thank you for ALL of YOU–& many blessings!

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      Lee, What a beautiful sharing. Libtards and RedNecks can be a dangerous mix – even frightful- as we have all observed. You have offered another option – AND A PRAYER FOCUS that may have been unthought of till reading your comment!
      Thanks for putting your self out here.
      Nice to know there is some one else praying and loving and experiencing the ALL in the ALL.
      I join you every night.

      1. Avatar

        Thank you, Carol. Out here where I am in the vast minority, shame is definitely not the way. Many of these people have been shamed most of their lives–& they are acutely sensitive to it. You have to accept them where they are, & love them for who at the core of their beings they are: some beautiful souls who are stretching YOU in the process to deal with who you can accept or cut out of your heart. We are one. In fact, I have never met people who are more willing to help you if are in some kind of distress or trouble. They are not their labels. Neither am I. I think the best way to deal with this out here is through the church ministers that you can get to know & work with. I am meeting with another minister this week who is into charismatic, Ground of Being worship from a Christian perspective (he is meeting with me because I am very interested in sharing what the “spiritualities” have in common). He was an evangelical minister for 30 years–& is looking for a new place to land with his new perspective on worship. Another misconception is that these born again right wing ministers are not very educated. NOT true. We have to get down into these trenches and “BE THE CHANGE” if we want a “tipping point” to occur. Men (in particular) will not become more vulnerable and open to expressing their feelings if they feel they are being constantly attacked–or that the only reason you are talking with them is to change them.

  3. Avatar

    Happy Earth Day is indeed a celebration and reminder of the Sacredness, Beauty, and Blessings of the Creation of Mother Earth, all her graceful abundance, and all her living creatures and beings, including ourselves, within God’s Loving and ongoing co-Creation~Incarnation~Evolution in the Cosmos of Loving Diverse Oneness…. !!!

  4. Avatar

    Celebrating the Rain

    Morning Dove
    Out on a limb
    Of an old oak tree.

    Gaze turned upward
    Facing grey skies
    She spreads her wings.

    With cooeing sounds
    She sings a song
    Celebrating the rain.

    Morning Dove
    Out on a limb
    Of an old oak tree.

    Heart open
    She surrenders to
    This joyful moment.

    Bathing in
    Living waters she
    Celebrates the rain.

    Wild woman
    Beneath the limbs
    Of an old oak tree.

    Face turned upwards
    Amidst dark clouds
    Opens lifted hands.

    An ancient chant
    She prayerfully sings
    Celebrating the rain.

    Wild woman
    Beneath the limbs
    Of an old oak tree.

    Naked she stands
    In her own skin.

    Showered with
    Gentle caresses she
    Celebrates the rain.

    1. Avatar
      Carol Vaccariello

      I saw the images one by one.
      I remembered a journey during Vision Quest in Alabama in the midst of Tornado winds and drenching waters. Thank you for the opportunity to remember the rain!

  5. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew, and any others who had a hand in today’s meditation. I agree that the created world is awesomely beautiful and its contemplation is delightful. At the same time, I, you and countless others know how our world suffers from pollution and pollution’s disastrous effects. I feel an impulse to heal what I and many others can, as fast as possible. I trust God’s mysterious will, but I feel called to act in my simple way, in cooperation with others, and as an advocate for the protection of all created beings. As the apostle James wrote in one of his letters, it’s not enough to pray that God will make things better. I want to get into the healing process. I like to think that my thoughts are consistent with gospel values and the evolutionary ideas of people like Chardin and Ilia Delio.
    Very best wishes for your continuously blessed life.

  6. Avatar
    Carol Vaccariello

    Thank you, George. I agree.
    One of the ways I think about my role, my responsibility for Earth, is to be a co-creator with the Creator. I think that is what you are saying also. It is not our “call” to sit around and wait for God’s magic to happen, rather it is for us to take responsibility to care for Earth and all the life she supports. We are an essential manifestation of “Divine Magic” responsible for caring for all life.
    I recently read Brian Swimme’s book, Cosmogenesis. It is an enlightening read. He helped me get past my head stuff and into my feelings about owning my place in the Cosmos. Humans aren’t separate, we are Cosmos. When I began to feel myself as Cosmos, everything had a different and unique feel to it. Since I am Cosmos, everything I do to Earth and Space, I do to me. I believe if we could find ways to instill this awareness in each other, there would be hope.
    Actually, as I have been following bits of the James Web Space Telescope, my awareness has heightened in regards to human responsibility to care for more than Earth and creation here.
    My curiosity suggested I do a Google search, “Have we created a junkyard in Space?” Check it out. I am overwhelmed by the amount of “garbage” that is orbiting Earth. If nothing else, we need to find ways to stop filling Earth and Space with debris.
    One post I came across reported there is concern that the amount of space debris will soon create light pollution that will effect Earth life.
    Yep, you are certainly on target with our human responsibility.

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