Every Day is Earth Day
My husband, Ted, hates Valentine’s Day. This is not a bad thing. He is actually very romantic. He hates Valentine’s Day because he feels that we should express love every day, not just one day of the year when commercialism dictates that we should spend lots of money to express our romantic love. Ted feels that we should express romantic love every day, and he does.
I kind of feel that way about earth day. I feel that every day is earth day. As a young child I would wake up each morning, hurriedly gobble down my breakfast, and head out into the adventure of the new day, a whole world to explore. I would only head home when my hunger told me it was mealtime. Or when it grew dark, and my mother would call me home.
In ancient days, people spent the vast majority of their time outdoors. Every day was filled with wonder at the mystery of the earth’s beauties and treasures. A few years ago I led a retreat at one of my favorite places on this earth: Casa del Sol, at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.
It was a retreat celebrating the earth through the sacred texts of six of the major world religions: Hinduism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Today I share with you a quote about the beauty and sacredness of the earth, from each to these traditions, plus two simple Earth Prayers for you to practice.
From the Bhagavad Gita, one of the most sacred texts of the Hindu tradition:
“I am the taste of pure water and the radiance of the sun and the moon. I am the sacred word and the sound heard in air, and the courage of human beings. I am the sweet fragrance in the earth and the radiance of fire; I am the life in every creature and the striving of the spiritual aspirant. “ Gita, 7:8-9
“That one alone sees truly who sees the Lord the same in every creature, who sees the Deathless in the hearts of all that die. Seeing the same Lord everywhere, that one does not harm self or others. Thus s/he attains the supreme goal.” Gita, 13:27
The phrase in Sanskrit, with which people greet one another, and with which every yoga practice concludes, is: “Namaste,” which means, “May the holy or sacred One in me acknowledge the holy or sacred One in you, and in all things.”
From the book os Psalms, in the Hebrew Bible: “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both great and small.” Psalm 104:24-25)
In Zen Buddhism, we encourage mindfulness and reverence toward all things, all people, all creatures, everything that exists.
Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life…Consider the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them…Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these…So if God so clothes the grass of the field, will God not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6: 25-30)
In Islam the Sufi mystic Rumi writes: “Are you jealous of the ocean’s generosity? Why would you refuse to give this love to anyone? Fish don’t hold the sacred liquid in cups! They swim the huge fluid freedom.” And again, “There is no reality but God,” says the completely surrendered teacher, “Who is an ocean for all beings.” (from Rumi: The Book of Love, Edited by Coleman Barks)
Every morning for the past twenty years, I begin my day by going outside, rain, snow, or sunshine, and doing two simple Native American prayers, taught to me by a Lakota woman, who was a teacher of mine many years ago, named Sister Jose Hobday. Sister Jose shared the reverence for this earth taught to her by her own Native American people, but was also a Franciscan nun, following Saint Francis and his love for God in all creation. Over the years I have taught these prayers to many people. Sister Jose returned to her Creator just a few years ago. I share these prayers with you today, in celebration of this earth she so loved.
Three Step Prayer:
Step One. Take a step, and feel yourself planted in this sacred earth. Using your five senses, give thanks this day for all the beauty that your eyes see; all the sounds of creation (birds, gentle breezes, etc) your ears hear; all the smells that you breathe in from this verdant earth; all that you taste; all that you feel. Give thanks to our Mother earth for these gifts.
Step Two. Take a step. With this step leave behind anything negative from the previous day. Wipe the dust of yesterday from your feet, from your spirit, and let go of it.
Step Three. Take a step into the gift of the new beginning that this day brings, that each day brings. Amen.
Prayer of the Seven Directions:
Begin facing the East. The East is the direction in which we see the sun rising, so for Native Americans, the East is the direction of new beginnings. Give thanks for the the hope, promise, and potential of the new day.
Turn a quarter circle to the right. This is the South. For Native Americans (and for all of us) the South is the direction of warmth, growth, fertility, creativity. It is also the direction of faith and faithfulness in relationships. Pray for those gifts in your life this day.
Turn a quarter turn to the right. This is the West. The West is the direction in which we see the sun setting or going down, so for Native Americans this is the direction of night, or rest, or sleep and restoration. It is also the direction of endings that need to take place in order for there to be new beginnings. Pray for those gifts in your life this day.
Turn a quarter turn to the right. This is the North. For Native Americans (and for all of us) the North is the direction of cold, of strength, courage, fortitude, and also for clarity, focus, purpose, single-mindedness. Pray for those gifts this day.
Return a quarter turn back to the East, but this time look up. For Native Americans, the upward direction reminds them of Father Sky. For all of us this is a a reminder to always look up, to see that we are part of something much bigger than we are. Pray for an expansive view this day, to always see the bigger picture.
Bend down and touch the earth below us. Give thanks for the gift of our Mother Earth, and pray that all that you do this day may be in honor and reverence of our Mother Earth.
Place your hand on your heart, and pray that all that you do this day may be true to the Spirit of God that is within you. Amen.
This Earth Day, may you realize that every day is Earth Day.
May you see the Holy One in all you encounter,
and may you reflect the Holy One to all you encounter.
Linda Forsberg, Copyright April 22, 2015
Photo Credits: Ted in Grand Canyon, AZ; Sylvie, planting flowers with me for Earth Day; Casa del Sol, Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM; Martin Luther quote; Stray Dog and Luke, Newport, RI; flowers at Glacier National Park; Newport Bridge at Sunset; Second Beach, Newport, RI; top of Kitchen Mesa trail, Abiqui, NM; Linda in Grand Canyon, AZ