Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Loving the Earth

That which we humans appreciate, we magnify! When we love someone, not only do we praise the magnificence of the one loved but the lover herself seems to grow in beauty, in carefulness, in admirable qualities. When we love and praise the beauty of our Mother Earth, she responds to our love and care. She, then, is productive so that we can gather her fruits and be nourished. It is required that we return gratitude in the form of care. As we play in her waters and climb her mountains, harvest her forests, and dig in her quarries, we must renew what we might have spoiled so that her health is restored . We need to teach our children what things are more important than other things. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, but proper relationships to the Earth teach all of us that we have treated our Earth without care or reverence, without knowledge of her needs or cognizance of the complexity of our present troubles. Wendell Berry, contemporary farmer, philosopher, poet, essayist, novelist and social activist, puts it this way: “When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free”(“The Peace of Wild Things” in Green River Review, #1).

What would it take for all of us to look again upon our Earth as mother, sister, brother, and know that we are all children of this universe? That we need to change our lives from ones of exploitation to lives of explicit gratitude so that all might again rest in the grace of the world, and be free? What we humans appreciate, we magnify! “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility,” writes Wendell Berry. “To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

S. Renee Domeier, O.S.B.

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