In recognition of Earth Day, we are honoring our one true collective home, our first mother, the mother to our mother’s and all our ancestors: Mother Earth. We are recognizing and bowing in gratitude to the beauty and livelihood she provides. We are looking inward and contemplating the ways in which we have given back to her and how we have thanked her. Most importantly we are evaluating our relationship with the earth and how it needs to grow, change, and be fostered.
2021’s Earth Day theme is “Restore the Earth,” focusing on how we can play a role in repairing the damage that has been done. Before we can make substantial change in our impact and begin to restore the Earth, we must examine our relationship with her. Too often our connection to Earth feels transactional. We tend to see Earth as something that exists to serve us. If we experience ourselves and Earth as one and the same would we change the way we treat Earth (or ourselves)? We need to protect nature and fight climate change - but perhaps there is a more universal and internal spiritual revolution that is the first step towards global healing.
We would like to offer you the following words by global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, Nhất Hạnh. In this excerpt from a love letter to the Earth, Hanh looks deeply at our relationship with Earth, creating an intimate conversation and dialogue with the planet.
Dear Mother Earth,
I bow my head before you as I look deeply and recognize that you are present in me and that I’m a part of you. I was born from you and you are always present, offering me everything I need for my nourishment and growth. My mother, my father, and all my ancestors are also your children. We breathe your fresh air. We drink your clear water. We eat your nourishing food. Your herbs heal us when we’re sick.
You are the mother of all beings. I call you by the human name Mother and yet I know your mothering nature is more vast and ancient than humankind. We are just one young species of your many children. All the millions of other species who live—or have lived—on Earth are also your children. You aren’t a person, but I know you are not less than a person either. You are a living breathing being in the form of a planet.
Each species has its own language, yet as our Mother you can understand us all. That is why you can hear me today as I open my heart to you and offer you my prayer.
Dear Mother, wherever there is soil, water, rock or air, you are there, nourishing me and giving me life. You are present in every cell of my body. My physical body is your physical body, and just as the sun and stars are present in you, they are also present in me. You are not outside of me and I am not outside of you. You are more than just my environment. You are nothing less than myself.
I promise to keep the awareness alive that you are always in me, and I am always in you. I promise to be aware that your health and well-being is my own health and well-being. I know I need to keep this awareness alive in me for us both to be peaceful, happy, healthy, and strong.
Sometimes I forget. Lost in the confusions and worries of daily life, I forget that my body is your body, and sometimes even forget that I have a body at all. Unaware of the presence of my body and the beautiful planet around me and within me, I’m unable to cherish and celebrate the precious gift of life you have given me. Dear Mother, my deep wish is to wake up to the miracle of life. I promise to train myself to be present for myself, my life, and for you in every moment. I know that my true presence is the best gift I can offer to you, the one I love.
- Thích Nhất Hạnh
From Love Letter to the Earth (2013) by Thich Nhat Hanh, with permission of Parallax Press.
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