This is my fourth celebration of the September-long Season of Creation, and a year when keeping zest alive and well is profoundly challenging. Yet I agree with Thomas Berry: losing it is our greatest danger. When it’s hardest to muster, we need it the most. It will heal the world as it carries us through the decisions, tasks, and changes to come. Zest is loving the earth we emerged from, loving our fellow creatures, loving the green world, the rocks and soil underneath us, the mountains above us. Loving the rain, the clouds, the wind. Loving trees, grasses, flowers.
A love that recognizes the limits that time and urgency place on us. Recognizes how hard the changes will be for so many, likely including ourselves. A love fierce and gentle at the same time, to energize us through the challenges, to reach out to hearts that need it, to power us with strength and joy.
My first two celebrations paired photos with quotes from Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si, one of the most important and comprehensive environmental statements of our time. In it, he covers everything from treaties between nations to family dinners. He says the need to change from our current course is the moral challenge of our time. The whole rests on the belief that all livings beings and natural forms have dignity and worth beyond their use to humanity.
The third celebration widened to religious leaders from many traditions. This time I am turning to poets, philosophers, scientists, activists, though starting with one of my favorite quotes from Laudato Si.
If these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions: What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us? It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one that dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.
Together these vanishing remnants of Earth’s biodiversity test the reach and quality of human morality. Species brought low by our hand now deserve our constant attention and care. Religious believers and nonbelievers alike would do well to sacralize God’s elegant command given in the Judeo-Christian account of Genesis: Let the waters teem with countless living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of heaven.
~Edward O. Wilson~
Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life
We are also, whether we like it or not, the dominant species and the stewards of this planet. If we can revere how things are, and can find a way to express gratitude for our existence, then we should be able to figure out, with a great deal of hard work and goodwill, how to share the Earth with one another and with other creatures, how to restore and preserve its elegance and grace, and how to commit ourselves to love and joy and laughter and hope.”
The Sacred Depths of Nature
would that we could wake up to what we were
— when we were ocean and before that
to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was
liquid and stars were space and space was not
at all — nothing
before we came to believe humans were so important
before this awful loneliness.
from the poem ‘The Singularity’
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the Universe about us, the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.
Speech accepting the John Burroughs medal
Our task is to take this earth so deeply and wholly into ourselves that it will resurrect within our being.
~Rainer Maria Rilke~
Letter to Witold Hulewicz
I try to remember that it’s not me, John Seed, trying to protect the rainforest. Rather, I am part of the rainforest protecting itself. I am that part of the rainforest recently emerged into human thinking.
Rainforest Information Centre
People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
A Fairly Honourable Defeat
The ecological age fosters the deep awareness of the sacred presence within each reality of the universe. There is an awe and a reverence due to the stars in the heavens, the sun, and all heavenly bodies; to the seas and the continents; to all living forms of trees and flowers; to the myriad expressions of life in the sea; to the animals of the forests and the birds of the air. To wantonly destroy a living species is to silence forever a divine voice.
The Dream of the Earth
Living away from the earth and the trees we fail them. We are absent from the wedding feast.
When Trees Say Nothing
In this moment, is it still possible to face the gathering darkness, and say to the physical Earth, and to all its creatures, including ourselves, fiercely and without embarrassment, I love you, and to embrace fearlessly the burning world?
Love in a Time of Terror
We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal.
World as Lover, World as Self
Appreciation and gratitude create beauty. Gratitude transcended is joy. Pure joy heals the world.
Thus Spoke the Plant
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