Our Sacred Earth: The Unique Responsibility of Women to Care for Mother Nature
As we celebrate Earth Day this month, let us remember the essential connection between stewardship to the Earth and our own healing journey. By now, most of us know that consciously creating a green lifestyle is the single most powerful way to make a difference in the future of life on Earth, and for our personal health. But we often resist these important lifestyle changes for whatever reason. In my own life, in addition to teaching others about green living, I have found that when my sustainable habits are imbued with spiritual awareness, I am much more likely to make and maintain the essential lifestyle changes required to respond to the environmental crisis.
Sustainable living offers us the infinite opportunity to practice spiritual mindfulness. Each eco-friendly act—conserving water, composting, recycling, eco-friendly shopping—is also an act of spiritual mindfulness. Indeed, it is mindfulness that transforms the mundane into the sacred. Turning the compost becomes a weekly round of Earth awareness, the water saved during a rainstorm become moments of gratitude, and limiting our waste becomes an offering to clean air and water. Sustainable living helps us to simplify our lives and re-prioritize what matters to us most—family, community and a radiant time here on Earth.
For many of us, our connection with the Earth reawakens our soul and imbues us with a sense of the sacred. Often some of our deepest personal healing takes place through our relationship with the natural world. But this subversive split—the desire to be healed by nature while we continue to harm it by living unsustainably—can never lead to genuine, whole healing.
I have found that it’s not so much the scary statistics that re-inspire one's connection to Earth, but rather something much more personal that links us to the soul of the Earth. This connection may take place during an experience of natural beauty—the pink radiance of sunset, the dark tumbling clouds of a summer storm, the delicate blossoms amidst the harsh desert landscape, the endless glow of a full harvest moon, or the emotional cleanse that comes from swimming in water. These are moments when we lucidly understand that a part of our sanity as human beings utterly depends on our relationship with the natural world.
Sometimes this essential link between psyche and planet occurs as our chosen spiritual practice strengthens our connection to the whole. Recognizing that we can’t separate from something of which we are a part, we begin to understand the fundamental relationship between our personal suffering and the Earth’s suffering. When we deaden our feelings about the planet’s crisis, we also deaden our souls. The more we try to isolate from the suffering of the natural world, the more we suffer. By contrast, the more we open our hearts to feel the pain, the more connected, courageous and alive we feel. As we awaken our caring for the Earth, there is a concurrent blossoming of compassion in other areas of our life— for family, colleagues, and community. For many of us compassion is the most effective doorway into sustainable living. Once we care deeply about something, then we want to take action.
We as women, as mothers, have a unique responsibility to share and pass on this connection to nature. Our children are like sponges, absorbing all of our practices both "good" and "bad" and learning how to navigate the world. This past weekend we celebrated Easter with friends, and my son participated in an Easter egg hunt. It was his first time (he's only 2) and he was so excited to collect the eggs, but was even more excited to gather the flowers on their property. Everyone thought it was the cutest thing, but this is a practice he does with me on literally a daily basis. Each morning he comes with me, barefoot on the Earth, to collect the flowers and herbs in our garden that we then use to make medicine. He was so gentle and precise when he collected flowers on the Easter egg hunt, just as he is in our garden or when we go wildcrafting. Taking just the tips of the flowers and making sure not to harm the stem, making sure to step carefully as to not crush nearby plant life. It was remarkable to watch, and an ode to the practices that are innate within all of us. Our first instinct is to care for nature. Let us foster this in each other, and most importantly in our children.
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